, Fla. (AP) — Florida
reversed its decision Wednesday and said a downtown Jacksonville bridge
can be decorated with rainbow lights to commemorate gay rights, just one day after ordering them to be turned off.
Taryn Fenske, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis
, told The Florida Times-Union that she didn't know why the Florida Department of Transportation ordered the state-owned Acosta Bridge to be returned to its normal blue lighting Tuesday night, but that the rainbow colors would be restored Wednesday night.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority had planned to use rainbow lighting on the Acosta throughout the week in honor of Pride Month
, which commemorates the struggle for gay rights. The state has allowed numerous celebratory lighting displays on the bridge to honor patriotic holidays, the Jacksonville Jaguars football
team, and disease awareness.
The state had turned down a rainbow lighting display for a bridge for the second time this month.
According to Fenske, “the bottom line is that (the rainbow) lights will be back” on the Acosta.
The state transportation department stated on Tuesday that its initial decision to turn off the rainbow lights was not motivated by anti-gay sentiment, but by a violation of regulations. It stated that the Jacksonville authority's permit for lighting the Acosta requires it to maintain a specific color scheme unless it receives state permission for a temporary change.
DeSantis, a Republican
, was chastised last week for signing legislation prohibiting transgender
students from participating in school sports
on the first day of Pride Month.
The state had previously denied Sarasota's request to light its John Ringling Causeway Bridge with rainbow lights this month, despite allowing other displays there, and the governor
's office did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press
on Wednesday asking whether that display will now be permitted.
According to the state's bridge lighting policy, the transportation department has the authority to reject any temporary color scheme that it deems offensive or not in the best interests of the public. It also states
that special lighting displays should be limited to federal or state holidays or celebrations, as well as "events of broad community interest and significance approved by local governments." Fenske said those policies will be reviewed.
According to the Times-Union, the Acosta is frequently lit in different color schemes, including teal to honor the Jaguars for drafting star quarterback Trevor Lawrence; green
for mental health
month; blue and green to raise awareness of neurofibromatoses, a neurological disorder that causes tumors; and light blue for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the fatal condition commonly known as LoVo.