American Medical Association: gay people should be able to donate blood.

Let’s face it.  Find someone in the United States who is opposed to gay rights and who among us (Christians included) if forced to bet our life savings on guessing their religion wouldn’t say “Christian?”  Sure, no all Christians oppose gay rights.  But of those who oppose gay rights they are almost universally religious.  And in the United States that means they’re very likely a Christian.  There may be atheist anti gay-rights people out there, but they’re about as detectable as snipes.

While it’s clear that gay rights are opposed because it flies in the face of people’s personal religious beliefs, that reason won’t fly in court or in Congress.  And so rather than telling the truth we get a wide assortment of silly justifications, like that somehow letting gay people marry will make straight people dissolve their marriage to the person they love because…penises?  Who knows?  But there’s certainly no doubt that many people who think their religion produces more moral behavior can’t seem to even start the conversation about gay marriage without lying.

Anyway, when trying to establish that homosexuality is somehow harmful to society you can’t talk long without hearing that gay people aren’t allowed to donate blood.  If people having same-sex intercourse are not tainted in some pathological way, why would this be?

It turns out there’s an explanation: panic over the AIDS epidemic that was spread largely by, you guessed it, the opponents of same-sex marriage.  However, the most prestigious body of medical minds in the world, the American Medical Association, is now recommending that the FDA drop the prohibition against gay people donating blood.  There’s no reason for it, and it turns out a person is never too gay to save the life of another human (probably a Christian or one of their loved ones):

The nation’s largest association of physicians voted this week to oppose a long-standing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on gay men donating blood, a rule created as part of the panic that accompanied the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The American Medical Association’s (AMA) vote, which took place late on Tuesday, was a strong medical rebuke to the 1983 policy. Virtually no (1 in 2 million) HIV infections are caused by transfusions, partly because modern medicine allows for individualized HIV/AIDS testing. Because HIV positive individuals can be specifically screened out, prohibiting any man who has had sex with a man (MSM) since 1977, as the FDA rule does, is unequivocally blanket discrimination against gay and bisexual men as a class.

The AMA’S decision is a response to these scientific and social realities. “The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science,” AMA board member Dr. William Kobler said. “This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone.”

So now that this sincere and very real reason for opposing gay rights is out of the way, I’m sure anti-gay people will come rushing to the side of equality.  Why wouldn’t they?  I mean, this was their real concern and not just a cover for the insistence that people organize their love lives around other people’s religion, right?


My brother is a recently out bisexual.  He’s a universal donor and has wanted to give blood but can’t.  The Red Cross already can’t get enough blood donations.  Thanks haters.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Azkyroth

    Technically, the rule isn’t “gay men” but “males who have ever had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1970something.” Irrespective of any other risk factors. Which means I have to lie about experimenting with a couple of same-age friends in my early teens in order to donate, which I do guiltlessly because the rule is FUCKING STUPID.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Huh. I didn’t know that about women who have sexual contact with a man who’s had sexual contact with another man. Not that I could donate blood at the time anyways- I didn’t weigh enough. But I have had a bisexual boyfriend who had had sex with men too.

      The rule is indeed really fucking stupid.

  • Silent Service

    About damned time. Now they just have to get it past the damned government goons. (Yeah I know; I resemble that remark.)

  • Loqi

    Yeah, because we all know the OMGDUDESKISSING Christian fundamentalists are paragons of honesty and rationality.

  • Michael W Busch

    Good. The donor pool has been artificially restricted for too long.

  • invivoMark

    “the most prestigious body of medical minds in the world America, the American Medical Association”

    Fixed it for you. There are other medical associations in the world, and their relative prestige is debatable. Hell, even in the US, it’s still arguable that there are more prestigious groups of “medical minds”.

  • Lexie

    Are there any other restrictions for donating blood in America based on a person’s sex life? I ask as the Australian list is quite long: if you are male and have had sex with another man (any sexual act even if protection was used), a female who has had sex with a bisexual man, a person of either gender who has had sex with someone who currently or has previously lived overseas (any country), worked as a sex worker (any gender), had sex with a sex worker (any gender engaging with any gender), had sex with a haemophiliac, and had sex with anyone who has used intravenous drugs (or you suspect may have). Though our restrictions are if you have engaged in any of these practices in the last 12 months not your entire life.

    • Azkyroth

      The blood bank where I’ve donated has the same restrictions, except the sex worker and male/male sex ones are life-long. Anything about promiscuity or differential grading based on use of protection was noticeably missing.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

    I still can’t give blood regardless of this needed change – cause of Mad Cow Disease.

  • Gehennah

    I never saw a legitimate reason to disallow it even when I was a Christian. They do a lot of testing on the blood that is donated, and they are extremely careful over who they do allow to donate blood.
    I can’t donate blood anymore due to one of my donor samples coming back positive for Hep C even though in the past 10 years or so since that happened and every one of them have come back negative. I could care less who donates any blood that I receive, as long as its been tested.


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