Florida officials will allow Sarasota to display rainbow lights on a bridge for Pride Month after all
Jun 19, 2021 12:24 pm
(CNN)A Florida agency is now allowing the city of Sarasota to light up a local bridge for Pride Month, after initially denying the request.
The John Ringling Causeway, a half-mile bridge that extends over the Sarasota Bay, will be decked out in the colors of the rainbow next week in celebration of Sarasota's LGBTQ community.
"In Florida, our LGBTQ community understandably feels under attack lately and this issue has become a symbolic yet meaningful stand for tolerance and inclusiveness in our community," Sarasota Mayor Hagen Brody wrote in an email to CNN. "I'm proud to stand with them and happy we could work out a path with the state to get it done."
The Sarasota City Commission must now pass a resolution indicating that the request for the rainbow light display stems from "broad community interest," a spokesperson for the city of Sarasota said.
The commission plans to meet on Monday to vote and pass the resolution, and Brody said the bridge is expected to be lit up the following day.
Brody said that the city had asked the state for permission in late May to display the rainbow lights "to commemorate Pride month and show our LGBTQ community that we as a city embrace our diversity and appreciate all of their contributions to our community."
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The regional Florida Department of Transportation office, however, denied the request earlier this month citing a failure to meet policy requirements, Brody said.
It's unclear what the requirements were, and CNN has reached out to the Florida Department of Transportation's District 1 for more information.
Other cities in Florida have faced similar obstacles.
Earlier this month, hours after a bridge in downtown Jacksonville was illuminated in rainbow colors, state officials ordered the lights to be turned off. A day later, though, the state reversed its decision and allowed the lights to be turned back on.
After the display in Jacksonville was ultimately allowed to go ahead on the grounds that it was of "broad community interest," Brody said he asked transportation officials to reconsider the request in Sarasota.
On Wednesday, Florida's Department of Transportation reversed its decision in Sarasota, too, allowing the John Ringling Causeway to be lit up after all.
The disputes over the Pride displays were seen by some in Florida's LGBTQ community as yet another attack by the state on their rights.
On June 1, the first day of Pride Month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law banning transgender girls and women in public secondary schools and colleges from participating on girls' and women's sports teams, becoming the eighth state this year to do so.