Florida won’t light bridges in rainbow colors for Pride

Florida’s major bridges will not be lit for Pride Month this year. Instead, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wants the Sunshine Skyway to be lit in red, white and blue.

This was recently announced by Florida Secretary of Transportation James Perdue on social media that as part of the state’s ‘Freedom Summer’, all bridges will be lit in patriotic colors from May 27 to September 2.

“As Floridians prepare for Freedom Summer, Florida’s bridges will follow suit and light up in red, white and blue from Memorial Day to Labor Day!” He wrote. “Thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis’ leadership, Florida remains the freest state in the country.”

The decision was announced as the DeSantis administration also touted a sales tax exemption and free admission to state parks over Memorial Day weekend. So despite the governor’s poor record on LGBTQ+ rights, the decision did not outwardly appear to be motivated by an opportunity to pre-empt Pride.

But it came after some Republican officials in the state in recent years objected to decisions to light state bridges for certain reasons. For example, Manatee County Commissioner Mike Rahn emails the state Department of Transportation objecting to lighting St. Petersburg’s Sunshine Skyway in rainbow colors for Pride Month and in orange for Gun Violence Awareness Day, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The state order affects all state-owned bridges in Florida, holding back some cities with progressive leadership and communities with a longstanding tradition of lighting the bridges during Pride month.

“We don’t want us or our legislature to have to look back at the end of their lives and say, oh boy, I screwed that up. It’s a symbol. It wouldn’t have hurt anyone to continue using pride colors, GVP colors, etc.,” Carol Rescigno, president of Brady Sarasota, told Sarasota’s ABC affiliate. Sarasota has been painting the John Ringling Bridge in rainbow colors for June for years.