A group of U.S. senators and GLAAD are calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift the ban prohibiting gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

The calls come as the United States faces a surge of new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Men who have sex with men cannot donate blood unless they abstain from sexual contact for 12 months. The FDA relaxed the ban in 2015. The agency adopted a lifetime ban in 1983 in response to the AIDS crisis.

GLAAD organized a petition calling on the FDA to lift the ban.

“The FDA needs to put science above stigma,” GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “Gay and bisexual men … want to give blood and should be able to contribute to help their fellow Americans.”

The U.S. government has called on Americans to donate blood as the crisis escalates.

In a letter dated March 26, 17 senators asked the FDA to “swiftly update donor deferral polities in favor of ones that are grounded in science, are based on individual risk factors, do not unfairly single out one group of individuals, and allow all healthy Americans to donate.”

They called the current policy “antiquated and stigmatizing.”

“While government health officials encourage every healthy individual to consider donating blood, the FDA continues to enforce a discriminatory donor deferral policy that effectively prohibits many healthy gay and bisexual men from doing so,” the letter states.

Five former 2020 presidential hopefuls – Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris and Sherrod Brown, who briefly considered a run for the Democratic presidential nomination – signed the letter, as well as Senator Bernie Sanders, who is still in the race. Sanders has said he would lift the blood ban if elected president.

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, the only out lesbian in Congress, organized the letter with Warren and Booker.