Blood ban could be reduced to deferral

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Food and Drug Administration released new proposed guidelines on blood donations by gay and bisexual men on May 12. The proposed rules would eliminate the current lifetime ban on men who have sex with men and replace it with a one-year deferral.

Instead of being asked if they have ever had sex with a man since 1977, the new questionnaire, if approved, would ask if a man has had sex with a man in the past 12 months.

Advocates say it is a step in the right direction — putting the U.S. on the same footing as nations like Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom. But some are also questioning whether the deferral would continue to stigmatize.

“This policy prevents men from donating life-saving blood based solely on their sexual orientation rather than actual risk to the blood supply” David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a release.

In a commentary posted at CNN, gay reporter Ben Tinker made much the same argument about the current rules, writing, “If you’re straight, you’re screened based on your behavior. If you’re gay, you’re screened for who you are.”

The new FDA guidelines are now entering a 60-day public comment period. Comments can be submitted online at!documentDetail;D=FDA_FRDOC_0001-5682.

— Matt Comer

National org seeks nominees

JAMAICA PLAIN, Mass. — Keshet, a national organization that works for full equality and inclusion of LGBT Jews in Jewish life, has announced that nominations are now open for the Landres Courage for Dignity Award.

The award honors individuals who have committed themselves in exceptional ways as allies to the LGBT community and as partners in advancing the full equality and inclusion of LGBT people, organizers shared. Candidates who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer are eligible for the Landres Award only if their activism benefits an identity group of which they are not a member.

It will be presented in December in San Francisco, Calif.

Nominations are due by June 17 and can be submitted online. Include name, email address, phone number and mailing address of the person nominated. Prepare a 500-1,000 word statement that describes why the candidate is deserving of the award.

Submit a brief biography on the nominee. And, provide name, email address and phone number for the person who is submitting the nomination.

For more information, visit

— Lainey Millen

Rustin stamp campaign comes to N.C.

bayardrustinstampcampaignCHARLOTTE, N.C. — Local organizers in the Queen City are circulating a letter and petition to get the U.S. Postal Service to issue a stamp featuring famed gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.

The campaign, which launched in 2014, aims to honor Rustin — famous for his role in assisting Martin Luther King, Jr., and organizing the 1963 March on Washington — with a national postage stamp.

The U.S. Postal Service has issued just one LGBT-related stamp honoring Harvey Milk.

Local groups, including the Freedom Center for Social Justice, are asking others to sign letters in support of the stamp. Durham-based activist and leader Mandy Carter serves as an honorary chair of the campaign.

Learn more and offer support at

— Matt Comer