SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Derek Kitchen hosted a blood drive at the Utah State Capitol, but he could not donate himself.
"Unfortunately, as a gay man myself I am unable to donate blood," he told FOX 13 News on Monday. "But I feel like it’s an important opportunity for us to talk about lifting the ban, but allowing the legislature to donate blood as well."
Sen. Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, has filed a resolution in the Utah State Senate calling on the Food and Drug Administration to end the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.
"The ban was instituted in the '80s with the AIDS crisis and it’s modified over time," he said, noting that currently the FDA's policy is that gay and bisexual men must abstain from sexual contact for at least three months.
"This is a policy that’s rooted in stigma and fear of gay men," Sen. Kitchen said.
Utah is facing a blood shortage like the rest of the nation and gay men are willing to step up and help out, the senator said. He organized a blood drive encouraging his fellow lawmakers to donate. On Monday, a number of Capitol Hill staffers and lawmakers stopped by to give.
"Obviously, we have a blood shortage, a refugee crisis, we’re emerging from COVID-19, it’s put enormous pressure on our health care system. It’s time for Utahns to step up and donate blood," Sen. Kitchen said, urging all Utahns who can to donate.
ARUP, which collected the blood donations, said the nationwide blood shortage has affected Utah. The company is politically neutral on the senator's resolution, but appreciative of his efforts to organize a blood drive on Capitol Hill.
"There’s all kinds of things we can do as Utahns to make sure the blood supply is there and the inventory’s high which is promote a blood drive, schedule one at work," said ARUP spokesperson Deb Jordan.
Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, showed up to donate. She told FOX 13 News she believes the policy should be repealed.
"It’s completely outdated and I think the FDA is reluctant," she said. "So if we get some states to get on board and say they’re prepared to change these policies, I think they’ll come around."