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Florida to allow rainbow lights on city bridge for Pride Month after backlash

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) on Wednesday said it will allow Jacksonville’s Acosta Bridge to display rainbow lights this week in honor of Pride Month a day after it said the display was not in line with the city’s existing permit. 

Confusion and backlash erupted in the city after the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) said in a public statement Tuesday night that FDOT earlier in the day had “informed the JTA that our scheduled color scheme for the Acosta Bridge is out of compliance with our existing permit.” 

The rainbow lights were set this week to illuminate the bridge, which has previously been lit up in different colors for holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, but on Tuesday evening, all blue lights lined the structure. 

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JTA spokesperson David Cawton said in a statement to The Hill that it “complied accordingly,” with the notification from FDOT, and that the state agency by Wednesday afternoon “notified us we could proceed with our scheduled light display.” 

FDOT told The Hill that, "While the schematic yesterday was not previously submitted/approved, in accordance with the bridge lighting policy, the department has since authorized its use as it is obviously a matter of broad community interest." 

"As a result, the department will also be working with all local partners to ensure bridge lighting requests are facilitated consistently, fairly, and impartially," the department added. 

“While the schematic yesterday was not previously submitted/approved, in accordance with the bridge lighting policy, the department has since authorized its use as it is obviously a matter of broad community interest,” Frady told the Post, adding that the agency would work “to ensure bridge lighting requests are facilitated consistently, fairly, and impartially.”

Taryn Fenske, a spokeswoman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisFlorida governor adept student of Trump playbook CDC can't regulate cruises: judge Former Fla. Gov calls for an investigation into the state's 'outsized role' in the Jan. 6 riot MORE’s (R) office, told the Florida Times-Union that rainbow lights would grace the Acosta Bridge by Wednesday night, saying, “The bottom line is, lights will be back up tonight.”

In response to allegations on social media that the order to initially remove the rainbow lights came from the governor’s office, Fenske tweeted Wednesday, “I want to be very clear that we/our office had no involvement.” 

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The Post reported that a Pride Month demonstration is scheduled to be held on the bridge this Saturday, with organizers encouraging people to walk across with their Pride flags. 

The bridge incident comes amid heightened tensions between DeSantis and the LGBTQ community after he signed into law a bill last week banning transgender girls and women from participating in public school teams specifically designated for female athletes. 

The Human Rights Campaign announced that it intended to sue the governor over the law, which DeSantis signed on the first day of Pride Month. 

DeSantis received additional backlash after he vetoed $150,000 in funds that had been proposed to provide mental health services for survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting and their families.