Jorge Díaz-Johnston, pioneer of homosexual marriage in Florida, discovered lifeless

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Don Johnston kisses his companion, Jorge Diaz, after receiving a wedding license in Miami on January 5, 2015.

MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Jorge Diaz-Johnston, brother of Florida Democratic Party Chairman Manny Diaz and one of many plaintiffs in Miami-Dade’s historic same-sex marriage lawsuit, was discovered lifeless Saturday.

Diaz-Johnston, 54, had been lacking since Jan. 3 when his physique was present in a trash heap at a Jackson County landfill Saturday morning. He was final seen within the 2800 block of Remington Green Circle in Tallahassee, the place Diaz-Johnston lived together with her companion, Don Johnston.

Tallahassee Police decided his loss of life, initially reported by the Tallahassee Democrat, to be a murder. Authorities haven’t but launched post-mortem particulars on his loss of life.

The couple was one in every of six, and the one one from Miami, who have been a part of a significant lawsuit filed in 2014 in Miami-Dade to problem Florida’s same-sex marriage ban. A county choose dominated Florida’s ban unconstitutional almost a 12 months earlier than the Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 ruling that every one states should acknowledge same-sex {couples}’ marriage licenses.

IMG_Group_inside_court_0_4_1_II3QBVR0_L98229557.JPG
Same-sex {couples} react in court docket, after Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel lifted the keep permitting same-sex {couples} to marry on Monday, January 5, 2015. The {couples} proven who had beforehand defied the ban of the weddings embrace (from left to proper): Cathy Pareto with Karla Arguello, Jeff Delmay and Todd Delmay (obscured), David Price (couple not current) Don Johnston and Jorge Diaz. WALTER MICHOT MIAMI HERALD STAFF

“I’m excited. I have received many congratulatory texts and emails. I’m elated,” Diaz-Johnston told the Herald in July 2014. “We came into this knowing it was probably going to be a long road. We trust that justice will prevail and we will go as far as necessary.”

Manny Díaz, who was mayor of Miami between 2001 and 2009, released a statement thanking Tallahassee Police, with the support of Mayor John Dailey and City Manager Reese Goad, for investigating her brother’s disappearance.

“I am deeply grateful for the outpouring of support received by me, my brother-in-law Don, and my family following the loss of my brother, Jorge Díaz-Johnston. My brother was a very special gift to this world, whose heart and legacy will live on for generations to come,” Diaz said.

Some of the plaintiffs in the case involving Diaz-Johnston were among the first gay couples to marry in Florida on Jan. 5, 2015, nearly 13 hours before the same-sex marriage ban was lifted. in the rest of the state.

Orlando Gonzales, executive director of the SAVE Foundation, an LGBTQ rights organization in Miami that was also involved in the Florida lawsuit, said he was shocked to learn of Diaz-Johnston’s death. They’ve known each other since 2000, when Gonzales moved to Miami, and he said he’s always been impressed by his kindness and commitment to his defense.

“It’s an amazing loss when somebody with these qualities leaves too quickly and in such an unbelievably horrible means,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales added that Diaz-Johnston was instrumental in outreach to the Hispanic community for SAVE and in recruiting Spanish-speaking volunteers in Miami to help with their campaigns.

Díaz-Johnston was pursuing a Ph.D. in Religious Studies at Florida State University, which Gonzales said speaks to a personal passion and mission for Díaz-Johnston, rather than a professional obligation.

“I wanted to develop his thinking, his mind,” Gonzales said.

Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida and another of the plaintiffs in the Miami-Dade lawsuit, said she was “heartbroken” to learn of Diaz-Johnston’s death.

“He and his husband Don have been two of the courageous plaintiffs who stood as much as Florida’s homosexual marriage ban and helped win marriage equality for all Floridians,” Smith said in a statement. “Our deepest condolences to the prolonged household of Don and Jorge.”

Tallahassee Police detectives ask that anyone with information about the investigation, which is open and active, call the department at 850-891-4200. Whistleblowers can also remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 850-574-TIPS.

Miami Herald researcher Monika Leal contributed to this report.

This story was originally published on January 13, 2022 5:52 p.m.

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