82 lawmakers ask for end to ban on gay men donating blood

More than 80 lawmakers have called on the Obama administration to allow gay men to donate blood. 

The lawmakers say the administration should change what they say is an "outdated" policy.

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Eighty-two lawmakers in the House and Senate signed on to the letter, including Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Enzi was the only Republican to sign the letter.

They said Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius should re-evaluate blood donation criteria that ban gay men from donating blood for life.

“Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic more than 30 years ago, the scientific community’s understanding of the virus has changed dramatically," the lawmakers said in their letter. 

"We have seen vast advances in blood screening technology, blood donation policy changes in other countries allowing MSM to donate, and opposition from our nation’s blood banks who have called the current ban ‘medically and scientifically unwarranted,’” the letter stated. MSM refers to gay men.

“Our current policies turn away healthy, willing donors, even when we face serious blood shortages. Further, the existing lifetime ban continues to perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes against gay and bisexual men, and fosters an atmosphere that promotes discrimination.”

The lawmakers applauded HHS for conducting studies and considering changes to the rules, but said HHS has not moved swiftly enough considering that other developed countries have re-evaluated their policies on blood donations from gay men.

“We look forward to ending this outdated policy and moving forward with securing the nation’s blood supply in a scientifically sound manner,” the lawmakers wrote.

Eighteen senators and 64 House members signed the letter.