Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and
Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley on Monday opened a new push to end a ban
on gay men donating blood.
In 2010, Kerry led an unsuccessful
fight to reverse the ban.
The FDA currently imposes a lifetime
ban on men who have had a sexual relationship with another man since
1977 from donating blood. But the agency only excludes people who
have engaged in heterosexual sexual activity with a person know to
have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, for one year.
Gay rights groups have said the policy
creates an unfair double standard and that it stigmatizes gay men.
Kerry and Quigley on Monday wrote to
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) voicing
support for a new pilot study reviewing the policy.
“We've been working on this a long
time and I applaud Secretary Sebelius for taking this important step
toward ending the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood, and instead
relying on the science of today not the myths of twenty years ago.
I'm confident that the findings of these new studies will pave the
way to get this policy off the books,” said Senator Kerry in a
statement. “We'll at last have an informed evaluation of the final
roadblocks to ending a ban against healthy, responsible Americans
“Patients across the country
desperately need life-saving blood transfusions, yet perfectly
healthy would-be donors are turned away based solely on sexual
orientation,” said Rep. Quigley. “Equality for the LGBT
community is closer than ever but outdated and discriminatory
policies like this must evolve to match advancements in science and
The letter is also signed by 10
Democratic senators – Michael Bennett, Mark Udall, Frank
Lautenberg, Carl Levin, Maria Cantwell, Jeanne Shaheen, Kirsten
Gillibrand, Daniel Akaka, Mark Begich, and Patty Murray – along
with independent Senator Bernie Sanders. (Read
to lift gay blood ban.)