Polis to Change ‘Gay Blood Ban’

The gay Jewish congressman calls for FDA to overturn blood donation ban for gay men


As Congress grapples with gun legislation and national security debates in the fallout from Sunday’s terrorist attack at an LGBT night club in Orlando, one lawmaker is looking at the repercussions of a policy that hit close to home: the gay community in Orlando was unable to donate blood to help victims of the shooting.

“The Orlando blood bank put out the call that they needed several kinds of blood, luckily donors stepped up. Of course, the friends, the loved ones, and even spouses of those directly affected were unable to give in that way,” Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) told CNN in his Washington office days after the attack.

Polis, the first man openly gay who won election to Congress as a freshman, is fighting to overturn Food and Drug Administration policy that effectively bans most gay men — any man who has had sexual contact with another man in the past 12 months — from donating blood.

Along with Reps. Mike Quigley and Barbara Lee, he is planning to send a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf urging him to end the ban.

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