Duval GOP takes aim at Mayor Donna Deegan for participation at River City Pride Parade

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Duval GOP is blasting Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan for serving as Grand Marshal of the River City Pride Parade this weekend after a conservative news outlet claimed condoms were distributed to parade-goers.


Duval GOP Chairman Dean Black took aim at Mayor Donna Deegan in an official statement arguing her participation in the pride parade was “beneath the dignity of the office”.

The statement came in response to videos and photos published by Florida’s Voice, a conservative news outlet, that captured images of the River City Pride Parade Sunday.

The article claims condoms and sexual aides were given to parade-goers, and one vendor was allegedly offering free sex toys to attendees who followed their social media page.

“It was billed as a family-friendly event,” said Black in an interview with Action News Jax Monday.

While it is not certain whether any children were given the listed items, Black stated that there were reportedly children in attendance.

“To have our mayor participate in an event that was sexualizing children is wrong,” said Black.

But State Representative Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) argued there’s nothing controversial about handing out free contraception.

She pointed out that other types of events like health fairs regularly do so.

“Any type of access to free contraceptives and barrier methods of contraceptives like condoms is really designed as a public health tool,” said Eskamani.

In a statement, Deegan’s staff claimed the mayor did not witness any of the items at the center of the controversy.

“Mayor Deegan attended the River City Pride Parade to show her support for our LGBTQ+ community and commitment to diversity and inclusion. During her participation, she did not see any of the items that were alleged to have been present. What she did witness is people and families coming together to celebrate the beautiful mosaic that is Jacksonville,” said Deegan’s Chief Communications Officer Philip Perry.

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And while Mayor Deegan’s team billed her participation in the Pride Parade as a historic first, Eskamani pointed out that in other communities like her district, elected officials participating in pride events is nothing new.

“And for years Republicans would go to Pride events with no issue,” said Eskamani.

State Representative Angie Nixon (D-Jacksonville) argued the GOP criticism is nothing more than a political attack on the mayor, and an effort by Republicans to stigmatize the LGBTQ+ community.

“There’s an all-out attack on members of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Nixon.

Black argued his issue isn’t with the LGBTQ+ community and is calling for city leaders to pass legislation to address his concerns.

“This has to do with public obscenity in front of children,” said Black.

Late Monday afternoon, City Councilmember Kevin Carrico (R-District 4) responded to that call.

“I am deeply troubled by this. For explicit materials to be distributed at an event promoted as ‘family friendly’ is beyond disturbing. My office is looking into whether any taxpayer dollars were used to support this event and how to prevent situations like this from happening again in our city,” said Carrico in a statement.

Action News Jax reached out to parade officials, but has not yet obtained any official statements.

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