I have written many times before on homophobia engrained in US law. Usually, my focus has been on the prohibition of Gays in the military and the right for Gay people to marry.
But those are not the only anti-Gay US policies.
The US Food and Drug Administration still maintain a severely outdated policy restricting Gay men from donating blood or bone marrow because of HIV concerns. Although similar policies have been reversed in other Western nations to no ill-effect, the United States continues to uphold this policy.
Recently, Cal students led a pro-active protest against the policy while recognizing the shortage of blood donations. The protest, led by UC Berkeley student, Jeff Manassero, asked Gay men unable to donate blood to find sponsors to donate in their place. As a result of the protest, a massive amount of blood was donated and lives will be saved.
Nonetheless, as a letter to the Daily Cal proves, some of the intellectual elite at Berkeley still support the outdated policy. Professor Moshe Sternberg supports the prohibition on the assumption that Gay men are far more likely than the general population to contract the disease. Unfortunately, the professor fails to consider that other minority populations (including African-American women) should be excluded from donating blood if pathogenic diseases were the only concern. Further, the American Red Cross opposes the outdated policy because it does not serve in the interest of protecting the health of Americans.
Simply stated, the policy prohibiting blood and bone marrow donations by Gay men is homophobic and based on outdated science and statistics. HIV screening is far better than it was in 1985 when this policy was first enacted and much less centralized in the Gay community. Further, there is a more pressing public health concern in ensuring an adequate supply of donations for blood banks.