As the nation faces a critical blood shortage, a California state senator and the American Red Cross are teaming up to increase donations and combat the Food and Drug Administration’s ban on queer men.
Sen. Scott Wiener will host a #GiveForAGay blood drive on April 7. The gay San Francisco–based senator is banned from giving blood per FDA guidelines because he hasn’t been celibate over the past year, according to a media release from his office.
“In a moment of crisis, we need to step up and do everything we can to help,” he said. “We’re experiencing a huge blood shortage, and it saddens and frustrates me that I can’t give blood, simply because I’m a gay man and I haven’t been celibate for a year.”
#COVID19 is causing a blood shortage.
Today, I sent this letter asking FDA to reverse its policy banning gay/bi men from donating blood unless they’re celibate for a year. The ban doesn’t apply to straight people.
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) March 24, 2020
The drive is intended to combat the blood shortage while raising awareness about the FDA’s discriminatory policy, which bans men who have had sex with men within the year they wish to donate. San Francisco Mayor London Breed will donate blood on Wiener’s behalf, according to his office.
“If you can’t give blood because you’re a gay or bisexual man, find a friend who can give on your behalf,” Wiener said. “And if you can give blood, do it in honor of a gay or bisexual man who is banned.”
The blood ban has fallen under intense scrutiny in recent weeks as the nation faces a shortfall amid the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, GLAAD lambasted the FDA’s policy and circulated a petition calling for an end to the practice. The petition has more than 19,000 signatures.
Holding on to an antiquated, discriminatory ban during these uncertain times is absurd. The @US_FDA needs to put science above stigma. Gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with men want to give blood and should be able to contribute to help their fellow Americans.
— Sarah Kate Ellis (@sarahkateellis) March 19, 2020
More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers have echoed those calls for change.
People in the San Francisco area can attend the blood drive on April 7 at Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall.
We have a severe blood shortage due to #COVID19.
Yet FDA continues to ban gay/bi men from donating.
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) April 1, 2020