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Gay Men Can Donate Organs and Blood … Only If Abstinent

Politicians and activists call on the Department of Health and Human Services to update discriminatory policies that prevent gay men from donating organs and blood because of their orientation.

Photo by Shutterstock

By Julissa Catalan


Photo by Shutterstock

More than 60 politicians and LGBT advocates are fighting to revise a very dated federal regulation that disqualifies gay men from donating organs and blood simply because of their orientation.

According to Ian Thompson, a Legislative Representative at the ACLU who focuses on LGBT rights, donating blood or tissue may not be a "constitutional right," but the federal government should not be able to discriminate against a prospective donor based on their orientation.

"In other words, gay and bisexual men cannot constitutionally be singled out for differential treatment solely because of their sexual relationships," Thompson told TakePart. "Eligibility standards must reflect current scientific knowledge and must treat like risks alike."

Currently, gay men face severe restrictions when it comes to donating organs, tissue or blood.

They are allowed to donate certain organs after HIV testing, but the transplant program is notified that the organ comes from a deceased man who had sex with other men in the past year.

They are allowed to donate tissue only if they have not had sex with other men for five years.

They are never allowed to donate blood.

In contrast, a straight man who admits to having sex with a prostitute or knowingly had sex with an HIV-positive woman only has to wait one year before being allowed to donate blood.

"Clearly that is not treating like risk alike," said Thompson.

This policy was first put in place in the 1980s, at the height of the AIDS crisis. More than 30 years later, huge strides have been made in science and medicine, and it is common knowledge that anyone who has unprotected sex is at risk, not just gay men.

Last week, more than 60 U.S. senators and representatives sent a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services saying the donation policies contained "inherent unfairness and inconsistency." The letter stated that the current policies "perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes" and "promote discrimination" while not adequately representing the advances made in science and HIV detection.

The legislators have requested a response to their letter within 30 days.

They are also pushing for a written update on what the department has done to assess donation regulations, as well as an estimate of when possible policy changes will be announced publicly and take effect.

"You have an administration in place that's committed to moving LGBT equality forward, and they've also done a lot in the area of HIV/AIDS," Thompson says.

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, there are more than 123,000 people who are on the national waiting list for lifesaving organs. Most of these individuals are waiting for kidneys, with livers, hearts and lungs also high on the list.

In addition, more than 1 million tissue transplants are performed every year, while more than 41,000 blood transfusions are needed every day.

Transgender People Reject Bigoted Policy​, Say They #WontBeErased​

The Trump administration proposes that government agencies should define sex as "a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth."

REUTERS

#WontBeErased hashtag erupted hours after The New York Times reported the Trump administration's push via a memo for a new legal definition of gender, which would essentially eradicate the estimated 1.4 million Americans who identify as a different gender than the one assigned assigned at birth.

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TWITTER

Republican precinct committeeman Michael Kalny of Shawnee sent a Facebook message about Democratic congressional candidate Sharice Davids, who is running against incumbent Republican U.S. Rep Kevin Yoder for the 3rd congressional district seat in Kansas.

"The REAL REPUBLICANS will remember what the scum DEMONRATS tried to do to Kavanaugh in November. Your radical socialist kick boxing lesbian Indian will be sent back packing to the reservation."

Emily's List posted on Twitter in response: "This racist, homophobic language is totally unacceptable. We're proud to stand with her & to help elect her." They've since promoted her, and another Native American candidate Deb Haaland of New Mexico.

Davids responded that the message "doesn't represent Kansas values, and it doesn't represent the values of the Republicans we know, many who support this campaign."

On Wednesday, Kalny resigned. "He reflected an apologetic attitude and didn't want to bring negative attention on the party or candidates running in this area," Johnson County Republican Party Chairman Mike Jones said.

No word on an official apology from Kalny to Davids yet. The hateful message was sent to Anne Pritchett, president of the Johnson County Democratic Women's north chapter, who had posted "hostile" messages on candidate Yoder's page in this fiery election race.

Davids, a LGBT lawyer and amateur mixed-martial arts fighter, could become the first ever openly gay member of the Kansas Congressional delegation, if she wins, as well as the first female Native American lawmaker in Washington.

She is a member of the Wisconsin-based Ho-Chunk Nation ("People of the Big Voice"), which had historically been forcibly separated and relocated out of Wisconsin several times by the U.S. government.

Kalny, when questioned about his message by local media, said he needed to talk to his attorney and hung up the phone.

He also resigned from his position on the board of directors for the Kansas City Barbecue Society citing "personal reasons."

C.J. Grover, a spokesman for Yoder, denounced Kalny's comments:

"Kevin (Yoder) doesn't believe this type of rhetoric is appropriate at all. It's unacceptable," Grover said. "These kind of nasty personal attacks are all too prevalent in politics these days, and it needs to stop."

Davids has shown up in pre-election polls as leading Yoder by as much as 8 percent. She also faces Chris Clemmons, a libertarian candidate, on Nov. 6. Voter registration ends on Oct. 17, less than one week away.

Update: Officer's Story of S​hooting Botham Jean Contradicts Witnesses

Witnesses say they heard the officer say, "Let me in. Let me in."

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Botham "Bo" Jean was killed around 10 p.m. on Thursday night by Amber Guyger, a four-year veteran of the Dallas police department, who just ended her shift and returned to her apartment complex.

The 911 call said she cried after shooting Jean in the chest, and apologized saying she thought it was her apartment. Her arrest warrant says that Guyger reports drawing her gun when she saw a figure in the dark apartment, giving verbal commands—which were ignored—and then firing two shots.

But witnesses, according to the family lawyers, say that they heard sounds and talking that contradict that report.

"They heard knocking down the hallway followed by a woman's voice that they believe to be officer Guyger saying, 'Let me in. Let me in,'" attorney Lee Merritt said.

After the gunshots, a man's voice was heard.

"What we believe to be the last words of Botham Jean which was 'Oh my god, why did you do that?'" Merritt said.

There were two witnesses, Caitlyn Simpson and Yasmine Hernandez, that heard a lot of noise on the fourth floor that night, including 'police talk', like: "Open up!"

There was also a video taken by witnesses of Jean being rolled out on a stretcher, with EMS performing chest compressions on him.

Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson is collecting all of the evidence before presenting to a grand jury, which could decide to up the charges to murder.

"We're going to unravel what we need to unravel, unturn what we need to unturn, and present a full case to the grand jury of Dallas County," Johnson said.

Protests were held Monday night outside the police department as questions still remain:

What were the results of the blood test for Guyger, and why did police respond from 30 miles away, rather than Dallas police headquarters that was two blocks away?

The family's lawyers are also still asking why Guyger was allowed to leave the scene without handcuffs and not be arrested for three days. "You or I would be arrested if we went to the wrong apartment and blow a hole in a person's chest, killing them," said Benjamin Crump.

The officer was arrested Sunday, and released on $300,000 bail as of Monday. She is on paid administrative leave.

Botham Jean's funeral is on Thursday.

Related Story: Dallas Police Department's Attempt to Demonize Murder Victim, Botham Jean, is Disgusting

Related Story: Update: Botham Jean Celebrated Amid the Urging of Officer Guyger to Come Clean

Related story: White Police Officer Charged With Manslaughter for Shooting Black Man in His Own Apartment

"Let me in": Witnesses dispute cop account of Botham Jean shooting, attorney says

Celebrate Pride Month!  ADP Promotes Diversity and Inclusion with LGBTQ Employee Self-Identification

Self-identification can help companies to better develop programs and benefits that meet the needs of LGBTQ associates and to better attract and retain a diverse talent pool to stay competitive in today's tight labor market.

Originally Published by ADP.

Numerous studies have shown that having a diverse workforce brings a wider range of opinions to the table which leads to better problem solving and drives innovation. But to benefit from diverse perspectives, companies first need to understand the makeup of their employee population beyond gender, ethnicity and race.

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Ruling in Colorado Bakery Case Sends Message About Discrimination

The Supreme Court made it clear that you cannot target people based on religion or sexual orientation — but left the future of similar cases in limbo.

David Mullins (L) and Charlie Craig / REUTERS

The United States Supreme Court ruled on Monday morning in favor of a baker hailing from Colorado who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple. The victory is a shaky one, though, as it deflected from the broader issue.

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White Officer Called Black Police Chief N-Word, Threatened to Beat Her to 'Death With a Banana'

Despite proof of a series of racist and threatening Facebook posts against Tiffany Tims, an Ohio officer hasn't been fired.

Screenshot from Facebook Messenger / WCMH NBC4

UPDATE May 30, 2018 at 10:38 p.m. ET:

On Wednesday night the Nelsonville City Council unanimously voted to fire police officer Joshua Braglin. The vote came during a city council meeting attended by numerous protesters.

ORIGINAL STORY

A white male police officer from Southeastern Ohio made racist and threatening Facebook posts against Hocking College Interim Police Chief Tiffany Tims, who is Black. Nelsonville Police Officer Joshua Braglin hasn't been fired. So, community organizers have scheduled a protest for Wednesday evening.

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Lesbian Latina Sets Out to Make History and Oust Anti-LGBT Texas Gov.

Lupe Valdez, former sheriff of Dallas County, is the first openly gay and Latina to win a major party nomination for governor in Texas.

REUTERS

A new sheriff may soon be in town in Texas, and she's already making history.

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