Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Kerry Speaks Out: Don’t Discriminate in Giving Blood

I can only shake my head when I see those white posters with the iconic red crosses at the campus where I work.

Give blood? Sure.

Except that my blood is not the right kind of blood. My donation, after completing the form in which I am asked point-blank about my sex life, will be summarily thrown away–despite the fact that this blood could save another life.

Senator John Kerry wrote an eloquent, reasoned editorial calling for an end to this discriminatory practice in Boston’s local gay newspaper, Bay Windows. The distinguished statesman from my home state debunks the reasons that gay men are legally banned from donating blood in the United States

Among the reasoned arguments:

  • AIDS is not a “gay disease” (as was commonly–and mistakenly–understood in the early 80’s)
  • High-risk behavior is not synonymous with gay men
  • “If you have had heterosexual sex with someone you know is infected with HIV, you are deferred from donating blood for just one year. But a man who has had protected sex with a monogamous male partner, even one time 33 years ago, is barred for life from donating blood.”

I was surprised to see that Senator Kerry had authored the editorial–and published it in a progressive newspaper like Bay Windows. Reminds me of the importance of straight allies, of standing up for what’s right in public forums, and of not accepting the status quo, as I have in the past regarding the Red Cross’ discriminatory practices.

Kerry reminds us that the work of overturning outdated and morally judgmental laws such as this one have found success before. “Look at what we did with the discriminatory ban on travel and immigration for those infected with HIV. We gained the support of every major public safety organization in the country and worked to pass legislation lifting that ban.”

It’s time to change the way we confuse personal beliefs with social needs, and then translate these beliefs into law. A small example among many: the dire yet discriminatory need for donations of blood.

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Filed under: gay rights, government, health, , , , , , , ,

One Response

  1. […] I’m glad to see that this is starting to get more attention–I see Senator Kerry wrote about it recently, too. […]

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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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