Target: Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Goal: Ask the FDA to end its ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.
When the Red Cross decided to have a blood drive in Campbell, California, Mayor Evan Low was happy to help host the event. When he and Vice Mayor Rich Waterman tried to sign up to donate blood themselves, however, they were told they could not. What was the reason for this? Both Low and Waterman are gay.
Low and Waterman, along with other non-heterosexual potential donors, are affected by a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on donations from gay and bisexual men dating back to 1977. This ban was implemented because of a belief at the time that HIV/AIDS was mainly concentrated in the gay community, and today stands as a relic of the prejudices of that era.
In July, activists led by filmmaker Ryan James Yezak held a national gay blood drive to raise awareness about the need for change. Yezak and other LGBT advocates are not the only ones demanding a new policy placing health status over sexual orientation. The American Medical Association has called for an end to the ban, and Congress is starting to demand change as well. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, inspired by the story of a gay man in her state who was told he could not donate to help Boston Marathon bombing victims, recently signed a letter along with 86 other national lawmakers asking the FDA revise their policy on donations.
The current FDA policy of denying healthy individuals the chance to donate blood simply due to their sexual orientation is outdated, a relic of an era when people did not have full awareness of the causes of HIV/AIDS. By signing this petition, you will ask the FDA to lift its ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual individuals.
Dear Dr. Hamburg,
The Food and Drug Association’s ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood recently entered the news when the mayor and vice mayor of Campbell, California were told they could not donate during a Red Cross drive hosted by the city. This ban, first implemented in 1977, is the product of a lack of medical knowledge of the causes of HIV/AIDS during that era and the resulting belief that it was a disease of the gay community. It is a dated and discriminatory policy that should be reviewed.
As you know, demands that the policy be changed to one that emphasizes health status instead of sexual orientation are not limited to the LGBT activist community. The American Medical Association has stated that the ban should end, and more recently Congress is becoming involved on the issue. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has wrote that “For me, this has been a basic issue of fairness and of science-blood donation polices should be ground in science, not ugly and inaccurate stereotypes.”
Blood donations are always needed, and healthy men should not be told they cannot give simply due to their sexual orientation. I ask you to please end this discriminatory policy that reflects the views of a bygone era rather than the medical consensus of today.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Waldszenen via Wikmedia Commons