Will it take an act of Congress to get the Food and Drug Administration to lift its ban on gay male donors? Or just Sen. John Kerry running his mouth about the stupid policy?
Just after we heard the excellent recommendations from the Gay Men’s Health Crisis about how to fix the FDA’s discriminatory (and altogether harmful) policy on gay men, it’s Kerry to the rescue. “Not a single piece of scientific evidence supports the ban,” says Kerry. “A law that was once considered medically justified is today simply outdated and needs to end.”
With a Bay Windows op-ed and an open letter to the FDA co-signed by twenty other Senate Democrats, Kerry looks to be lifting directly from GMHC’s advisory, demanding even the questionnaire used to screen donors be updated.
“A law that was once considered medically justified is today simply outdated and needs to end, just as last year we ended the travel ban against those with HIV,” the senator says in a statement issued today.
This is bold. And this is just what’s necessary. Without anyone on the Hill pushing the FDA to update its policy, the organization was free to maintain banning any man who’s had sex, even once, with another man since 1977. The American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, and AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks) are all in agreement that the donor pool should be opened to gay men, and that there are more reasonable precautions to take to ensure the safety of the blood supply than stigmatizing gay sex. This is a move stripped of corporate influence and lobbyists. This is a move that’s just the right thing to do.
And it’s the responsibility of FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg — who’s been on the job less than a year — to do just that.
[Kerry’s letter was co-signed by: Sens. Kirstin Gillibrand (N.Y.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Russ Feingold (Wis.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Al Franken (Minn.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Tom Harkin (Ohio), Mark Begich (Alaska), Roland Burris (Ill.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.).]