Despite reports (by Slate, CNN, Mic, Jezebel, The Verge and several other reputable news orgs) that Central Florida blood banks had lifted the ban on the donation of blood by gay men, OneBlood tweeted a couple of hours ago that the FDA regulations banning the donations remain in effect.
The ban, as it exists now, is on gay men who have had sex in the past year. The FDA "lifted" the outright ban, which had been in place since 1983, in 2013 — well, not actually lifted, but changed it to only ban any gay man who said on the screening questionnaire that they'd had sex in the past year.
(Our former news writer Billy Manes – who's live on MSNBC
as we type this – reported
on the controversial ban in 2013.)
However, since this is a self-reporting situation, it's unclear how many gay men were actually turned away from donating. Also, all blood is screened after being drawn, no matter who donates it, so the bans seems ... notional. And today we've heard multiple anecdotal reports, not for attribution, of nurses not asking "the question" and of donors not answering it.
However, in the face of this tweet from OneBlood we must conclude they are in fact turning away gay donors, today of all days. There's a lot of anger and uncertainty around this unclear policy. Colorado Rep. Jared Polis tweeted "If gay blood is good enough today, why not every day?"
No one at OneBlood is answering phones to clarify this statement, and we wouldn't expect them to at this moment — they are doing important work today.
However, this rejection of donations is disappointing, if it's true. As The Verge said in their very well-researched post
on the topic, "It's more difficult to donate blood as a gay man in Florida than to buy an assault rifle with no questions asked." In what universe is that sensible?
We'll update if we receive more information on this policy.