Cross-posted from my blog.

If I need help, I do not stop and wonder if the person who is helping me believes in God. I do not concern myself with their personal life at all, really. They are helping me. I say 'Thank you'. So when I read about this, I was rather incredulous. A food bank was unable to make all of its deliveries because they were short on volunteers, but they were turning away volunteers who didn't belong to a church. The guy running the food bank even admits that 'it sounds really, really stupid', but apparently the food bank was set up with increasing church involvement as a primary goal. I thought feeding hungry people was the point of a food bank. Would the people getting the food have cared whether or not the deliveries came from church-goers?

This may be a relatively small issue, but it hints at something bigger. Any situation where politics or prejudice interferes with getting help to people who need it is an unnecessary and terrible thing. When the earthquake hit Haiti, there were huge delays getting aid to the people that needed it because of bureaucracy. I can't go anywhere at the hospital where I do my research without seeing signs asking you to donate blood, but the FDA bans a significant portion of the population (homosexual men) from donating at all.

That is something that has really bothered me for years, too. Hospitals always need blood. Always. I have never seen a blood drive that wasn't advertising a 'critical shortage'. They need this blood to save people's lives, in the most literal sense. But only if it's not gay.

Now I know, the ban was put in place back in 1983 because the male homosexual population at the time had significantly higher rates of HIV infection. We had no effective screening process to ensure donated blood was safe, and it was honestly better in terms of disease control to eliminate the possibility of receiving blood from such a high risk population. Seriously though, that was almost thirty years ago. All donated blood is screened for HIV now, and other high risk populations are only required to wait a year after their last 'high risk behavior'
before they get the go ahead to donate. Don't even get me started on why butt sex even qualifies as a 'high risk' behavior. Ugh.

So why is the ban still in place? Apparently it's a polarizing issue, with the blood banks themselves split on whether to maintain the lifetime ban or remove it entirely. But we're talking about peoples' lives here, why is it even up for debate? More blood donations can only be a good thing. Sometimes I just want to smack some perspective into people.

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Comment by Kevin Loydl on August 4, 2010 at 8:54pm
The blood donation ban on gay men is stupid. Every single blood donation gets tested so i dont see the big deal. But after looking at a few sights on it (i want to fight it and get it banned. The last gay guy that tried failed because he tested positive for gonarea, im clean and healthy. So i should win) but many of the sights just says to lie. There is no harm in donating if you know you are clean. But the one question that asks "have you had sex with a male since 1977" i never did lie on. Even if i said i was gay, yet im still a virgin they would say no to me. Because i might be lieing. So if i do fight it, i will not have been in the wrong. But seriously tho, its 2010, and i live in Canada. Why is crap like this still around? ugh. Tho we are ahead of MANY other countries on the equality front :-), hopefully the rest will soon follow. I just found out that california is going to be overturning prop 8. Tho its not a defenite, but its a propability as it is against the constitution. :-) Sorry if i went WAY off topic lol.
Comment by Jeffrey P. Murphy on August 4, 2010 at 6:17pm
I'll say, I *HAVE* encounter folks who care if their aide is coming from a believer.

Now, much can be said for the instability of some of our (USians) nations homeless, but on three separate occasions, I've had a beggar who I gave something to go on about how I'm a blessing from God and he asked God for someone to help him today - yadayada. I usually let it go unless it presses on (as it had in these three cases), so I just told them "That's nice but I don't believe in a god" - it usually ends these three cases, the individual threw what I had given them back at me (in one case, with a few nickels extra) and one even spit on me.

But you're right - anyone willing to give aide should be permitted, regardless of political/theological differences.



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