Taryn Fenske, spokeswoman for the governor. Ron DeSantis, told The Florida Times-Union that he did not know why the Florida Department of Transportation had ordered the state-owned Acosta Bridge to return to normal blue illumination Tuesday night, but said the colors the rainbow will be back on Wednesday night.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority had planned to use rainbow lights in Acosta throughout the week in honor of Pride Month, which commemorates the fight for gay rights. The state has allowed numerous celebratory lighting displays on the bridge to honor patriotic holidays, celebrate the Jacksonville Jaguars football team, and raise awareness of disease.
It was the second time this month that the state rejected a rainbow light display for a bridge.
“The bottom line is that the (rainbow) lights will come back” on the Acosta, Fenske told the newspaper.
The state transportation department said Tuesday that its original decision to turn off the rainbow lights was not motivated by an anti-gay animus but because the display violated regulations. He said the Jacksonville authority’s permission to light up the Acosta requires it to maintain a certain color scheme unless it receives state permission for a temporary change.
DeSantis, a Republican, came under fire last week when, on the first day of Pride Month, he signed a law prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in school sports.
The state had previously rejected Sarasota’s request to illuminate its John Ringling Causeway Bridge with rainbow lights this month despite allowing other displays there as well. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press on Wednesday asking if such a display will now also be allowed.
In accordance with the state’s bridge lighting policy, the department of transportation may reject any temporary color scheme that it deems offensive or not in the best interest of the public. It also says that special lighting displays should be limited to federal or state holidays or celebrations and “events of broad interest and importance to the community approved by local governments.” Fenske said those policies will be reviewed.
The Times-Union reports that the Acosta is frequently illuminated in different color combinations. Last month, he lit up teal to honor the Jaguars for picking star quarterback Trevor Lawrence; green for mental health month; blue and green to raise awareness of neurofibromatosis, a neurological disorder that causes tumors; light blue for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the fatal condition commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease; purple for lupus awareness; and red, white and blue for Memorial Day.