Equality California
State of California Calls on Federal Government to Change Outdated Blood Donor Policy

2010 Press Releases

August 25, 2010

Vaishalee Raja, Equality California
PHONE: 916-284-9187 EMAIL: vaishaleeATeqcaDOTorg

State of California Calls on Federal Government to Change Outdated Blood Donor Policy

Sacramento - The State Senate today approved the U.S. Blood Donor Nondiscrimination Resolution (AJR 13) with a bipartisan vote of 22-8. The resolution calls on the Federal Drug Administration to repeal its outdated and scientifically unnecessary rule prohibiting healthy gay and bisexual men from donating blood. AJR 13, sponsored by Equality California and introduced by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), puts the State of California on record in support of updating rules for blood donation, which would increase the number of life-saving blood donations with no increase in risk of disease.

“Our nation lacks a sufficient blood supply due in part to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s antiquated policies preventing healthy gay and bisexual men from donating blood,” said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors. “We thank the California legislature for passing this important resolution calling on the federal government to repeal this harmful ban immediately.”

Current federal rules prohibit any man who has had a sexual relationship with another man in the past 31 years from donating blood at any facility, regardless of personal health. The law prevents innumerable gay and bisexual men who are otherwise healthy from contributing to the nation's blood supply, which faces chronic shortfalls due to a lack of donations. In 2007, the Red Cross reported that Southern California's blood supply had reached critical levels, resulting in a record low four-hour supply of type-O negative blood. More recently, the New York Blood Center began rationing its supply to hospitals in and around New York City because of a shortfall there.

Adopted in 1983, the rule targeted gay and bisexual men due to fear of HIV/AIDS transmission, when little was known about the disease or how it is spread. Today, a better understanding of the disease and significant innovations in blood screening technology make the fear of HIV/AIDS spreading through the blood supply nearly nonexistent. Despite significant technological advances, the current federal policy remains.

“Blood has no sexual orientation, and the FDA should have no discrimination,” Assemblymember Ammiano said. “I hope President Obama hears our call to change this shameful and discriminatory practice immediately so we can save more lives.”

For more information about Equality California’s other legislation, please visit us online at www.eqca.org/legislation.

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender-rights advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. Equality California has passed over 60 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org