Policy

LGBT Caucus Leader Calls for Changes to Blood Donation Ban

Congress should also make changes to Civil Rights Act, another says

Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis will urge the FDA to allow all gay men to donate blood in the wake of the Orlando, Florida, shooting. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Jared Polis said Monday he plans to call on the Food and Drug Administration to end its restriction on gay men donating blood in the wake of the nightclub shooting in Orlando.  

The Colorado Democrat told CQ Roll Call he will draft a letter from both chambers of Congress urging the agency to lift the ban on homosexual men donating blood if they have been sexual active in the past 12 months.  

In December, the FDA lifted a decades-old ban on any blood donations from men who have had sex with men, a practice it instituted in 1983 at the height of the AIDS epidemic.  

Polis, a co-chairman of the LGBT Equality Caucus, said the FDA should update its guidelines for blood donors based on behavior, not sexual orientation.  

Up to six-hour wait times were reported outside centers in Orlando, Florida, where people lined up to give blood after Sunday's shooting at a gay nightclub there, which left 49 club goers dead and 53 injured.  

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney , also a co-chairman of the LGBT caucus and the first openly gay member from New York, said he would call on Congress to pass the Equality Act. The legislation would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to bar discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.  

"It’s an issue we should be debating right now,” the Democrat said in a phone interview. He later said, “There’s nothing more basic than ending discrimination in federal law.”  

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report. Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter.

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