In the days following the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the military policy that banned gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from serving openly in the United States military, one of the last things I expected to see was a reminder of how the LGBT community is being kept from active participation in the betterment of our society. Boy was I wrong. Merely walking into the UC on Wednesday September 21 was enough to remind me that I am still a second-class citizen. What was this reminder? A hate crime? No. A person using derogatory language about gays? No. It was a blood drive.
Homosexuals have been prevented from donating blood since the 1980’s because of the then high correlation between homosexuals and the AIDS virus, HIV. In today’s society it seems odd to think that in a world where every blood sample is being tested and much more is known about the virus that such a policy would still be in place.
There are arguments against the legal discrimination against one group’s involvement in society. If gays are prevented from donating blood because of a once statistically high prevalence in the community, then why haven’t other groups been targeted by a similar policy, such as the poor who are statistically more likely to have disease or African-Americans who have had a huge swell in the number of HIV infections since the 1990’s. No one advocates restrictions on these groups from donating, nor should they. They should merely evaluate the situation as it currently stands.
Another argument that should be raised is that HIV is not the death sentence that it once was thought to be. I must admit, I have lost three friends to HIV/AIDS but it was their own faults. Refusal to take the medications that would lengthen your life is the same as tying a noose around your own neck.
I do have friends with HIV who participate regularly in society and have no visible signs of the virus.
Some may say that if I really want to donate I should just lie on the donation questionnaire. My response: I don’t lie to myself or to anybody else because of who I am. Some might say that I just shouldn’t donate or raise a fuss because it isn’t a civil right or a civil liberty.
I agree. Donating blood is not more a right or a liberty than voting or military service. It is a civil responsibility or duty that should be above discrimination.
The final point I will make is that I do not think it is appropriate for educational institutions to allow discrimination on their campuses. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Keagen also agrees with this sentiment. In her time working as an administrator for Harvard, she booted the military off the campus because she cited the policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell conflicted with university anti-discrimination policy.
Allowing blood drives on campus is endorsing discrimination which is against our university’s policy.
I am not advocating that all people should not give blood or that others should be discriminated against, but I am arguing that it is inconsistent to allow discrimination on a campus that prides itself on its inclusion.
If every college campus who had similar policies began booting blood drives from campus and explicitly stating why, the policy put in place by the Food and Drug Administration would be repealed in short order.
I think every person should ask themselves, “Would I rather die because there is a shortage of my blood type or have the blood that has been tested and is clean of someone who may be a homosexual or bisexual male flowing through my veins?”
— Derek Fuzzell, Economics Senior