Amid a critical blood shortage in Arizona and across the nation, Rep. Greg Stanton today called on the federal government to end an unnecessary and discriminatory policy that prevents gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

The American Red Cross in January declared its first-ever national blood crisis amid the surge of the Omicron variant and said that dangerously low blood supply levels have forced some hospitals to defer patients from major surgery and forced doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions. Vitalant, Arizona’s largest community non-profit blood provider, announced a blood shortage days before the American Red Cross.

“No one doubts the serious need for blood donations, yet an entire group of Americans is excluded from answering the call for help,” Stanton wrote. “This cannot be justified with science.”

Following calls from Stanton and other leaders, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2020 relaxed the deferral period for gay and bisexual men from one year to three months. Stanton said at the time it was “a step forward, but frankly isn’t enough.”

LGBTQ+ community leaders echoed Stanton’s renewed call for federal officials to do away with the deferral period.

“The gay blood ban is not only outdated, but also discriminatory and shame-inducing to a population that just wants to help in a time of deep need in our country. We currently have the knowledge, and already use the appropriate technology, to test each and every blood donation for HIV–which is not just a gay disease,” Jimmy Thomason, the executive director at Aunt Rita’s Foundation, said. The foundation works to end HIV in Arizona.

“This ban is based on stigma, not science. Arizona is facing a critical blood shortage—a crisis that can be eased by modernizing the Food and Drug Administration’s discriminatory policy that bans men who have sex with men from donating blood,” Bridget Sharpe, the Human Rights Campaign’s Arizona director said.

Stanton’s letter is available HERE.

Arizonans can sign up to donate blood at