In this exclusive audio broadcast Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ participated in a media call hosted by the National Gay Blood Drive and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee with Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) urging the FDA to lift the requirement that gay and bisexual men be celibate for a year before donating blood. Since the LGBT massacre in Orlando, Florida more than 130 members of Congress have signed letters asking the Commissioner of the FDA to remove the requirement including Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who are leading the effort in the Senate and along with Rep. Polis leading the effort in the House are Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL). In addition, a grassroots petition by National Gay Blood Drive, the Equality Federation and the PCCC has raised over 12,000 signatures stating that scientific evidence does not support this ban and that screening should be based on behavior and not sexual orientation.
Courtney Hagen, Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s Capitol Hill Team stated, “Today we have a clear message for the FDA: The public and members of Congress want you to lift the ban on gay men donating blood and treat all people equally. After Orlando, a discriminatory FDA ban that requires gay men to be celibate for one year to donate meant that thousands of would-be healthy donors were turned away from Orlando blood banks that desperately needed their blood. Their community was under attack but they were unable to do even the simplest of acts to help it heal.”
Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), the first openly gay parent in Congress added, “The FDA simply needs to make screening based off of behavior and off of science, not off of orientation. The gender of one’s partner has nothing to do with whether one is engaged in risky behavior or not. It’s high time for this outdated and discriminatory policy to end and I’m confident with such broad spread support among both the American public as well as members of Congress the FDA will be moved to look at the science that shows, in fact, that there’s nothing inherently different about the blood of gay or bisexual Americans.”
Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) of Orlando concluded, “At times of tragedy, giving blood is a form of showing solidarity, showing concern for the victims and even a form of citizenship. We can’t say that we have first-class citizens and second-class citizens; we can’t say some people can give blood and other people can’t based upon their sexual orientation or anything like that. When I asked people and other elected officials asked people, to give blood, we had over 5,000 donors in less than 24 hours. In one location, we had two blocks that had to be cordoned off because the line was that long -- a line two blocks long in the rain of people anxious to give blood that day. And that’s a recognition of the impulse we all feel in times of tragedy to help and no one should be turned away in those kinds of circumstances.”
According to a study published in the Columbia Medical Review the one-year celibacy requirement is outdated and ignores that all blood donations are thoroughly tested using the latest technology and scientific advancements. The AIDS Research Institute calls the policy discriminatory and “not really supported by the facts.” Over 4.2 million eligible blood donors are affected by the requirement.
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