FDA Reviewing Gay Blood Ban
United Press International reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing a policy that effectively prevents gay men from donating blood. In a statement, the agency said, “We are considering the possibility of pursuing alternative strategies that maintain blood safety.” Currently, the ban excludes blood donations by any man who has had sex with another man since 1977. The restrictions were imposed over fears in the 1980s that blood from gay men would spread HIV and AIDS. Led by former presidential candidate John Kerry, 18 US senators have called on the FDA to lift the ban.
California Protest Seeks Social Security Benefits for Gay Couples
According to the Associated Press, about 700 peaceful demonstrators protested in Hollywood, demanding that same-sex couples receive Social Security benefits. Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, told AP, “This was the kickoff for a national campaign to end discrimination when it comes to Social Security. We not only have to educate the straight community, but we have to educate our own. Many don’t know how it works until they’re older, and faced with having been denied benefits.” US Representative Linda Sanchez told the crowd of demonstrators that she would author legislation in Congress to extend Social Security Survivor benefits to gay couples. US Representative Judy Chu offered to coauthor the bill. US Senator Barbara Boxer also spoke.
Troops Question Impact If Gay Ban Is Lifted
The Associated Press reports that US troops attended a first-of-its-kind meeting in March to discuss lifting the ban on openly gay service members. About 350 randomly selected troops assembled in an auditorium at the Pentagon to ask questions of the working group tasked with researching the impact of lifting the ban. Soldiers asked questions about a variety of issues, including possible bunking arrangements and benefits for same-sex spouses. One female Marine stated that bunking with a lesbian would be the same as sharing a room with a man. When asked if they believed they already have served with a gay person, about half the audience raised their hands. The working group is not expected to release its findings until the end of the year.
Judge Says Transgender Inmates Have Right to Therapy
According to The Washington Post, a federal judge has struck down a Wisconsin state law that prohibits transgender inmates from receiving taxpayer-funded hormone therapy. A group of inmates challenged the 2006 law with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda Legal. Larry Dupuis, an ACLU attorney, told reporters, “It’s a victory for these inmates who have a condition that is misunderstood and vilified for political purposes.” Lawmakers who passed the measure hoped the state’s Attorney General would appeal the ruling. Republican State Representative Scott Suder commented, “This ruling puts a higher priority on helping inmate Tommy become Tammy than protecting the pocketbooks of law-abiding citizens.”
88 Gay Couples Have Married in Mexico City
The Associated Press reports that 88 same-sex couples have married in Mexico City since it became legal in February. According to city officials, 50 of the couples were male and 38 female. Between now and June, 37 more same-sex marriages are scheduled to take place. Mexico City is the first jurisdiction in Latin America explicitly to legalize same-sex marriage. The legislation also allows couples to adopt children.
Gay Men’s Bodies Desecrated in Senegal
According to the Associated Press, in the past two years, the bodies of at least four men suspected of being gay have been exhumed and desecrated by angry mobs in cemeteries in the African nation of Senegal. Ryan Thoreson, a fellow at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission who has been researching the rise of homophobia in that country, says, “It’s jarring to see this happen in Senegal. When something like this happens in an established democracy, it’s alarming.” The Associated Press notes that many gay men have gone into hiding, or have fled to neighboring countries.