Nikki Fried says Jax bridge lighting is part of anti-Pride pattern for Ron DeSantis
John Ringling Causeway in Sarasota, lit up in three colors, not six.

Ringling Bridge Patriotic
DOT also shot down plans to light a Sarasota bridge in rainbow colors.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried holds Gov. Ron DeSantis responsible for the state briefly shutting down a Pride lighting display.

The Governor has distanced himself from controversy around the rainbow illumination at Acosta Bridge. but Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner notes this wasn’t an isolated incident.

“Now it has been reported that your Department of Transportation has denied requests to light bridges around the state in acknowledgement of Pride Month, a national celebration and recognition in Florida of our state’s large, proud LGBTQ+ community,” she wrote. “This includes your administration denying the City of Sarasota’s request to rainbow light the Ringling Causeway Bridge, and ordering the City of Jacksonville to remove LGBTQ-themed lighting from the Acosta Bridge, the latter leading to organized protests of your administration’s actions.”

A spokesperson for DeSantis stressed he had no involvement in the regional Florida Department of Transportation decision to not allow pride lighting and declined to respond to Fried.

“Again, as FlaPol has reported already, I want to reiterate that the Governor’s Office had nothing to do with turning off the bridge lighting,” said DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw. “To suggest otherwise is absurd and baseless. Governor DeSantis isn’t going to respond to Commissioner Fried’s allegations. This is just the latest example of her playing politics for ‘Resistance’ retweets and MSNBC hits, instead of focusing on the responsibilities of the important job she was elected to do for the people of Florida.” 

News of the regional office for FDOT shutting down the Jacksonville bridge created a flurry of news on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. That came after the bridge had been lit up with the promise it would remain that way each evening.

Meanwhile, Sarasota’s request was denied before Pride lighting could illuminate.

“I think the state is being a little rigid,” Sarasota Mayor Hagen Brody told the Herald-Tribune. “I didn’t think this request would be anything controversial. It’s really surprising to get push back from the state.”

Fried also mentions there had been plans in the works for Everytown for Gun Safety to sponsor lighting the Florida Capitol in orange for National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 4. Fried had actively supported the gesture.

“After beginning to process this request, the Department of Management Services suddenly ignored further follow-up communications from our department, and summarily denied the Capitol lighting,” Fried wrote.

DeSantis started the month off with a pair of actions that upset the LGBTQ community and alarmed activists.

On the first day of June, DeSantis signed legislation barring transgender girls and women from competing in school sports for girls.

The following day, he vetoed all state spending in the 2020 budget related to LGBTQ programs, including mental health funding for survivors of the 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The Governor’s office stressed funding for services would still be available through other mental health programs that he left intact in the budget.

“You may choose not to recognize that your administration’s homophobic, transphobic actions exacerbate the discrimination the LGBTQ+ community continues to face just as you may choose to ignore the nearly 3,000 gun deaths that occur in Florida each year,” she said. “As Governor, it is your moral and constitutional responsibility to serve Floridians, not only those whose antediluvian predilections you share.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


4 comments

  • Arthro

    June 9, 2021 at 9:38 pm

    Nikki is trying to distract from her $350,000 accounting error. Typical Democrat…interpret everything as racist or homophobic because they need their constituency to remain scared of Republicans. It’s all they got. Nikki is a do nothing, cannibis pushing clown.

    Reply

  • john

    June 9, 2021 at 10:23 pm

    Public property is not for the use of fringe radicals. What about the 99% who don’t care to see this on public property? I am for everyones rights but don’t think you get special rights because you decide to behave in a certain manner. Sodomy is a sin. Harming children is reprehensible. Do what you want in private, I am not interested in having it in my face.

    Reply

  • Nate

    June 10, 2021 at 6:23 am

    Seriously? Lighting of a bridge is an issue for Democrats? Even my gay son rolls his eyes at their nonsense.

    Reply

  • Ron Ogden

    June 10, 2021 at 5:57 pm

    Race, sex, guns, rich people. Repeat. Race, sex, guns, rich people. Repeat. Over and over again for 15 months until she just bores her opponents to death. Any aid groups chartering a slow boat to Gaza I can get on?

    Reply

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