Looks like more bridges will get rainbow lighting for Pride month.
The Florida Department of Transportation has approved themed lighting schemes for the Sunshine Skyway and the John Ringling Causeway bridges. Requests to light both roadways had previously been denied.
The City of St. Petersburg received an okay from the state so long as County Commissioners can verify broad public support exists for celebrating Pride, according to a report from Bay News 9. Prior applications to light Florida’s most prominent bridge in rainbow lights had been denied the past two years.
Similarly, the City of Sarasota this year wanted to light up its bridge in rainbow, but had an initial request nixed. On Wednesday, the state changed its tune, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports, and will allow the bridge to be lighted for the final week of June.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has stressed he has no hand in decisions about the lighting of bridges, fielded a question at a Sarasota press conference last week and said he believed decisions about lighting were made because of code matters, not political messaging.
The several requests for Pride-themed lighting schemes that were shot down, though, drew attention after the Jacksonville Transit Authority lit up the Acosta Bridge in early June, only to have FDOT order the lights out. That came after local complaints.
After local uproar, the state reversed course and rainbow colors were restored after a single night of turning blue.
Meanwhile, political opponents of DeSantis were increasingly turning the issue into a matter of statewide significance.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is challenging DeSantis in 2022, issued a statement decrying the denial of lighting as part of an anti-Pride pattern for the administration. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat also running for Governor, called the move an “all-out assault on the LGBTQ+ community.”