Equality California announced that it has partnered with Assemblymember Richard Bloom to advance an assembly joint resolution that has passed the Assembly Floor today with a final bipartisan vote count of 58 to 15. AJR 50 urges President Barack Obama to compel the Department of Health and Human Services and Food and Drug Administration to adopt modernized blood donor policies that do not discriminate against men who have had sex with other men.
AJR 50 also urges the President to be an agent of change so that FDA blood donation eligibility policies will be based on modern scientific research and findings rather than archaic assumptions and fears. Despite modern technology that makes HIV detection easily achievable, the FDA still prohibits men from donating blood for life if they have even once had sex with another man.
“Even with a clean bill of health, a gay man is considered more of a threat to the blood supply than a straight person who has been treated for a sexually transmitted disease in the last year,” said Rick Zbur, executive director – elect of Equality California. “The FDA ban is discrimination pure and simple. Ending this FDA ban is a priority for Equality California, and this resolution, authored by Assemblymember Bloom, is the beginning of that effort.”
“Today’s science-based best practices for blood donations make it clear that it is unnecessary to prohibit healthy men from donating blood purely on the basis of their sexual orientation. The FDA’s archaic exclusions are both discriminatory and unwise, considering the nation’s chronic blood supply shortages,” said Assemblymember Richard Bloom, “It is time for the FDA to restructure its blood donor deferral policies to reflect sound science, not outdated social prejudices.”
First established in 1983, the current federal FDA donor-deferral policy prohibits blood donation by men who have had sex with another man even one time since 1977. Medical organizations such as the American Red Cross, the American Association for Blood Banks, America’s Blood Centers and the American Medical Association have called for a reevaluation and/or repeal of this policy citing its excessively broad nature and advances in blood testing.
The Williams Institute, a national think tank based at UCLA School of Law, estimates that an additional 130,150 men would likely donate 219,200 additional pints of blood each year if the ban were lifted, helping blood banks in the United States which routinely operate with a short supplies, especially after significant disasters or national emergencies.
The resolution will now move to the Senate for consideration.
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. For more than a decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor 96 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org