85 Lawmakers Fight Gay Blood Ban

8.5.2013

By Andrew Belonsky

Lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin leads a pack of fed up lawmakers.

"The existing lifetime ban continues to perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes against gay and bisexual men, and fosters an atmosphere that promotes discrimination.” So say Sen. Tammy Baldwin and 84 other congressional lawmakers (all Democrats, save for one Republican, Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming), in a letter demanding the FDA lift its archaic ban on blood donated by men who have sex with men.

The law, written in 1977, during the heyday of the AIDS panic, is completely outdated, say the senators and representatives who are being led by openly gay Senator Baldwin. “Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic more than 30 years ago, the scientific community’s understanding of the virus has changed dramatically," the officials tell the FDA in an open letter.

"We have seen vast advances in blood screening technology, blood donation policy changes in other countries allowing MSM to donate, and opposition from our nation’s blood banks who have called the current ban ‘medically and scientifically unwarranted,'" they write, according to The Hill.

Then, in one of many truths they spoke to the health powers, "Our current policies turn away healthy, willing donors, even when we face serious blood shortages. Further, the existing lifetime ban continues to perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes against gay and bisexual men, and fosters an atmosphere that promotes discrimination.”

Though Health and Human Services said last year they would review the ban, they have not made any progress and the lawmakers hope this letter will help getting this thing done in an expeditious manner. "We look forward to ending this outdated policy and moving forward with securing the nation’s blood supply in a scientifically sound manner."

Baldwin and company aren't the only influential people throwing their weight behind the ban's reversal: the American Medical Association reiterated their opposition earlier this year and an estimated 2,000 gay men across the country participated in a mass donation last month to prove that, yes, their blood is just as healthy as that of men who have sex with women.

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