Board opposes ban on gay blood donations

February 26, 2008 7:57:28 PM PST
In a disaster-- the first thing many people think of doing to help -- is to "give blood." but not if you're a gay man.

Federal policy bans any man who's had gay sex in the past 30-years, from "ever" giving blood.

Santa Clara county supervisors are standing up to the federal government.

"I will make the motion that the county opposes the FDA ban on gay men from donating blood," said Santa Clara county supervisor Ken Yeager.

The FDA imposed the ban in 1983, when aids and HIV hit the gay community hard. And for 25 years, Ken Yeager, an openly gay supervisor, hasn't given blood.

"It's very offensive to me, just the mere thought that there's something wrong with my blood that it can't be a part of the blood supply," said Yeager

Supervisors unanimously adopted the resolution, which encourages other counties and legislators to put pressure on the FDA to change its policy.

But Supervisor Pete McHugh wanted more.

"If we were to ban blood drives on county property because of discriminatory practices, that I think would have more of an impact," said Santa Clara County supervisor Pete McHugh.

"Frankly and I'll speak candidly here, the feds could care less whether we ban it on country property or not," said Santa Clara County executive Pete Kutras.

"I'm frustrated with the discussion that gets to that level, I think it's overly dramatic," said Vincent Yalon from the Stanford Blood Center.

Stanford Blood Center directors say banning blood drives in the county would be devastating. While they support the board's motion today, they oppose the blood drive ban San Jose State implemented last month.

"The FDA policy is in conflict with our non discrimination policy and therefore we're suspended blood drives from campus," said Larry Karr from San Jose State University.

Eventhough administrators suspended blood drives on campus, a mobile unit could've pulled up right here to take blood, but a lot of those agencies chose not to do that, saying it went against the essence of the school's decision.

It's a decision that won't bend until the FDA does. The last time they re-examined the issue was two years ago.

They have no plans of changing the policy.