Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin is leading a push to allow gay men to donate blood.
Gay men have not been allowed to donate blood in the United States since the emergence of HIV and AIDS in the 1980s. The ban was instituted because gay men had a higher rate of infection. The disease can be transmitted through sexual activity and blood transfusions. Gannett Washington Bureau reports that Baldwin and 84 other Democratic lawmakers sent a letter Friday to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying the ban fosters "an atmosphere that promotes discrimination." Baldwin and the other senators say donors should be screened based on health factors and not sexual orientation.
Baldwin is the first openly gay U.S. senator.