Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver (D-N.J.) has joined a coalition of lieutenant governors throughout the country who are advocating for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift the three-month wait period gay, bisexual, queer and transgender men have to follow before being able to donate blood, according to a press release.
“Simply put, this antiquated mandate lacks any scientific bases and needs to be stopped,” Oliver said, according to the release. “In the face of a large-scale crisis with severe blood shortages or not, we should never ostracize our LGBTQ+ community — we should invite them to volunteer to help save lives. We are one New Jersey community — we help each other, no matter sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Approximately 20 lieutenant governors in the United States addressed a letter to Stephen Hahn, the FDA’s Commissioner of Food and Drugs, according to the release.
“We write to you today to request that the U.S. (FDA) remove restrictions prohibiting blood banks from accepting blood and plasma donations from gay, bisexual and queer men, as well as many transgender individuals, unless they have been celibate for three months,” the statement said, according to the release. “This is an antiquated and discriminatory ban that is not based on scientific evidence. Given the increased demand for blood and plasma donations due to (coronavirus disease), keeping this ban in place is undermining our nation’s blood supply during a severe shortage, which could keep us from saving lives.”
The American Red Cross has said the eligibility for blood donation should not be determined based on sexual orientation, according to the release. In addition to this, the letter said the William Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law has estimated that an additional 360,000 men would be eligible to donate if the ban is lifted.
“The FDA’s decision earlier this month to ease restrictions on blood from men who have sex with men proves what medical experts have been saying for decades: that the current ban is not based in science but rather discriminatory politics,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of the Garden State Equality, according to the release. “The FDA’s policy change is a sign of progress, but the current crisis absolutely demands that we must follow the science and have a complete, immediate end to this archaic, demeaning ban.”