Sunday, January 16, 2022

Jorge Diaz Jhonston: The brother of former Miami mayor and pioneer of gay marriage in Florida has been found dead

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“I am deeply grateful for the support that has been shown to me, my brother-in-law Don and my family,” Manny wrote after his brother’s death

The brother of former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and a gay rights activist, who has been missing since January 3, was found dead in a Florida landfill on Saturday, January 8, what investigators believe consider murder.

Jorge Diaz-Johnston, 54, is the brother of Diaz, who mayor of Miami from 2001 to 2009. Tallahassee police said Wednesday that his body was found in a pile of trash at a landfill in Baker, Fla., about 60 miles east of Miami, Alabama border was spotted. “I am deeply grateful for the support I, my brother-in-law Don and my family have received following the loss of my brother Jorge Diaz-Johnston,” Manny, 68, wrote of his brother in a tweet following his death. “My brother was such a special gift to this world whose heart and legacy will live on for generations to come.” Some of the other activists who have recently lost their lives include Timuel Black, Bob Moses, Ahmed Hassan and Charles Grodin.

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No arrests were made after the family filed a missing persons report, which led to the discovery of Diaz-Johnston’s body. The police said the investigation was ongoing.

Diaz-Johnston was last seen near his place of work. He had been married to husband Don Diaz-Johnston, 51, since March 2015. He and his spouse were plaintiffs in a 2014 lawsuit against the Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office after officials refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses. After the judge sided with the plaintiffs, Miami-Dade County became the first county in the state to legalize same-sex marriage. Jorge and Don were among the first to marry the following year.

“We are heartbroken to learn of Jorge’s death,” Equality Florida, the group behind the petition, said Thursday. “He and his husband Don were two of the brave plaintiffs who took on Florida’s anti-gay marriage ban and helped bring marriage equality to all Floridans.”

In a statement on Facebook Wednesday, Don said there were “no words” for the loss. “I can’t stop crying trying to write this,” he wrote. “But he meant as much to you all as he did to me. So I fight through tears to share with you our loss of him.” Back after winning the case against County, Jorge told NBC Miami, “For us, it’s not just a matter of love and desire, expressing our love and having the benefits that everyone else in the state has, but it’s an equality issue, and it’s a civil rights issue.”

Current Mayor of Miami Daniella Levine Cava praised Diaz-Johnston for his role as an advocate for LGBTQ rights in the city. “In Jorge Diaz-Johnston we have lost a champion, leader and warrior for our LGBTQ community,” she tweeted. “His tragic loss will be deeply felt by all who loved him as we honor his life and legacy.”

Elizabeth Schwartz, who represented the six couples on the case, noted how hard the two had to fight just to get married. “They fought so hard for their love to be anchored and to enjoy the institution of marriage, and for marriage to end this way — in this cruel, heartbreaking way — there are no words,” Schwartz said.

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