April 3, 2020 at 6:36 pm PDT | by Chris Johnson
Trump says he had nothing to do with FDA easing gay blood ban
blood ban, gay news, Washington Blade

President Donald Trump said he had nothing to do with the FDA easing the gay blood ban. (Screen capture via C-SPAN)

President Trump, in response to a question from the Washington Blade, said Friday he had nothing to do with the recent Food & Drug Administration decision to ease the ban prohibiting gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

“No. I didn’t know anything about that,” Trump said. “That was done by the FDA, very capable people at the FDA.”

Trump made the comments during the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force news briefing, which the Blade was able to attend as result of being in the seat rotation for reporters in the White House briefing room.

A spokesperson for the LGBTQ media watchdog GLAAD, which had been pushing on FDA to lift the gay blood ban, said Trump’s response isn’t surprising.

“The inclusion of this issue in such a prominent venue is a signal to the FDA that the LGBTQ community will not stop fighting this ban until all of us can donate blood without restrictions,” the spokesperson said. “Trump could have used this press conference to stand with LGBTQ Americans as well as the leading medical and scientific experts who are now calling on the FDA to end the three month deferral. However, given his poor track record on LGBTQ issues and listening to science, his non-response was disappointing but not surprising.”

As the nation faces a blood supply shortage during the COVID-19 epidemic, the FDA announced Thursday it would loosen restrictions on blood donations, including the ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

The earlier policy, established in 2015, barred men from donating blood if they’ve had sex with another man the past 12 months. The new policy, on the other hand, shortens the period of required abstinence to three months before gay men can make a donation.

Many LGBTQ advocates hailed the move as progress, but at the same said the policy should be changed further and be based on individual risk factors, not a blanket ban on men who’ve had sex with men.

Log Cabin Republicans, which had credited the FDA policy change to Trump calling on the agency to cut “red tape” during the COVID-19 crisis, said nothing has changed after Trump’s remarks.

“On March 19th, President Trump ordered the ‘removal of outdated FDA rules and bureaucracy,’” Log Cabin Managing Director Charles Moran told the Blade. “That’s exactly what happened when the FDA issued its relaxed guidelines yesterday. So yes, I stand by my statement that he had a role in this.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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