For the first time since 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering amending its blanket ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM). The proposed new policy would only permit donations from men who have abstained from sex with men for at least twelve months. The FDA says the waiting period is needed because “compelling scientific evidence is not available at this time to support a change to a deferral period less than one year while still ensuring the safety of the blood supply.”
Though we applaud the incremental progress this represents, we find the FDA’s rationale highly problematic. Should the change take effect, the FDA would continue to base its MSM selection and screening policy on outdated theories and centuries-old stigma rather than evidence-based criteria. For example, the viral life cycle of HIV is not linked to behavior. Based on the FDA stance, it would follow that all persons engaging in penetrative sexual acts should be subjected to this year long abstinence period. Current laws and regulations mandate all blood donations be screened for a range of potential threats, most of which are no more common among MSM than other groups. Therefore, we believe the system will remain safe with no ban on MSM donations.
Here are actions you can take to help end the ban:
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This action alert was prepared as a collaboration between MCC’s HIV/AIDS Advisory Council (Dr. David Williams, M.D., M.P.H., Chair) and the Public Policy Team of Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute (Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner, Chair).
MCC is joining with human rights activists, LGBT Jamaicans, and people of faith from around the world for a day of global protest on Wednesday, 6 August 2014, in opposition to Jamaica’s Anti-Buggery Law. The law has provided legal cover for extreme anti-LGBT violence throughout the country. The anti-LGBT movement in Jamaica has been highly effective in spreading hateful propaganda about the community. MCC joins activists from around the world in calling for a coordinated, global response in solidarity with LGBT people on the ground.
6 August is Jamaica’s Independence Day, and we invite you to join us in calling for an end to violence and the legal system that enables it.
Jamaican Consulate Protests:
Our Day of Action will send a powerful message that the British-era colonial law has no place in any modern society. Dwayne Brown, the founder of Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand, said, “For too long, the government of Jamaica has failed to take decisive action to address the ongoing crisis of anti-LGBT violence. One important step is immediately repealing the buggery law, which has been used in various ways to terrorize the LGBT community.” It will further support the legal challenges taking place in the Jamaican judicial system to eliminate the anti-buggery law, an effort led by MCC’s Maurice Tomlinson.
Here’s what you can do to join the movement:
U.S. Supreme Court allows corporations to have religious freedom-opens the door to discrimination
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is the Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), which has ministries in over 40 countries. Dr. Wilson was part of the first LGBT faith delegation to meet with U.S. White House staff in 1979, and she served as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Today, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, global leader of Metropolitan Community Churches, condemned the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on what is popularly known as the “Hobby Lobby” case. Dr. Wilson said, “The high court of the United States put all of our freedoms at risk today. Conservatives may now seek to deny a range of civil liberties and religion will be an excuse to discriminate.”
“Although this decision impacts women and adds unnecessary steps to accessing reproductive health care, the scope of this decision could be much broader. We are deeply concerned that this decision could turn back the hands of time for generations. Religious dogma may now impact sexual minorities, religious minorities and historically oppressed racial groups. Any group that has been told to ‘stay in your place’ based on the Bible is a target again. We have worked for 45 years to claim civil liberties for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. This decision makes our work harder but we will not rest until justice comes for everyone!”
The MCC Statement of Faith on Women’s Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice states in part:
[MCC] affirms that all people are entitled to the rights and resources that equip them to make their own decisions about their bodies, their sexuality, and their well-being, including the inalienable right of women to control their bodies. We call on all levels of government and civil society to honor and respect those rights. … It is not up to government, civil society, or organized religion to instruct them on what their choice should be. We honor that tradition by calling on all levels of government to ensure that all women have the right to choose their reproductive health care options and the means to exercise those options at their sole discretion.
For the full MCC Statement of Faith on Women’s Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice, click here:
MCC, GLOBAL JUSTICE INSTITUTE, AND HIV/AIDS ADVISORY COUNCIL JOIN TESTING CAMPAIGN
MCC has partnered with the Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services (UCHAPS) to promote the USA’s first-ever National HIV Testing Week. It begins Saturday, June 21 and runs through June 27. The theme is “Talk HIV, Test HIV, Treat HIV.” The partnership seeks to increase how many people know their HIV status.
Culminating in National HIV Testing Day (Friday, June 27), the campaign encourages everyone, including churches, to reach out to health providers and community organizations to plan and expand events to raise awareness, provide testing, and offer supportive services that encourage people to get into care. Events and testing sites are being hosted around the nation, and they include government offices, doctor’s offices, health clinics, bathhouses, bars, and chemical dependency treatment facilities, among others. Check out www.nhtwus.org to find a testing site near you or your church.
Here are some actions you can take to engage the campaign:
Knowing one’s status is a crucial first step in getting people into systems of treatment and care. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Treatment Cascade analysis shows that the path to health and viral suppression starts with diagnosis. If we can get people tested, they will know their status. If they know their status, we can link them to systems of care. If we can link them to care, we can support them so that they stay in care. If we can get them to stay in care, we can support an appropriate antiretroviral therapy program. And if we can keep them on their medication and accessing other supportive services, we can keep them alive and thriving. It all starts with testing. As people of faith, we are called to do this work.
Talk HIV, Test HIV, Treat HIV
MCC is long tenured in the response to HIV as it was the first Christian denomination to minister to those with HIV/AIDS. The CDC announcement is good news to our churches because it gives us an additional tool to reduce new HIV infections.
All methods of HIV prevention should still be applied in addition to this new scientifically proven method of taking a daily dosage of Truvadaas described in the guidelines under the direction of a medical professional with the required counseling. However, MCC emphasizes that PrEP is not a substitute for condoms, but another option now available. No single intervention is completely protective in preventing HIV transmission. Clean syringe exchange for people who use drugs, widespread distribution of male and female condoms to populations at risk for HIV transmission, reducing the number of sexual partners, universal access to health services and anti-retroviral treatment, eliminating gender-based violence and gender inequality, age-appropriate sex education and repealing laws criminalizing people with HIV and sex workers and people most at risk for HIV transmission are interventions that we know will work.
PrEP is a medical advance that is the product of peer reviewed research and international scrutiny, and should be made universally available.
We still need a cure for AIDS and a vaccine for HIV. Recognizing that PrEP is not a cure or a vaccine for HIV, we now have evidence that it can reduce HIV infections among populations most at risk for HIV transmission. While new HIV infections overall have declined somewhat worldwide, they are either not declining or increasing in populations most at risk for HIV such as gay men and men who have sex with men and transgender persons.
MCC and the Global Justice Institute call on the world’s medical community to marshal resources and make personal commitments to providing PrEP-inclusive medical care to all those at risk of HIV transmission including those who are incarcerated. We call on people of faith to do the work of justice, in the private and public sectors, by opposing all systems of domination and marginalization that make the use of PrEP necessary. We will judge our work complete when the world fundamentally agrees on the sacredness of sexuality and no one abuses this fundamental freedom.
Click HERE to download information provided by MCC’s HIV/AIDS Advisory Council on PrEP, andHERE for the CDC’s guide to how to talk with your doctor. Click HERE for the Advisory Council’s information on PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).
This statement was prepared by the HIV/AIDS Advisory Council and the Moderator’s Public Policy Team,
Metropolitan Community Churches
“For decades, Exodus International has been synonymous with the idea that people need to be ‘cured’ or ‘healed’ of homosexuality. This week’s historic apology from Exodus leader, Alan Chambers, for the harm done to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people by Exodus is encouraging,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson. “Sadly, nothing will bring back the lives lost to suicide based on pseudo-psychology and corrupt theology. Any apology for past suicides, lost years and damage to families is only as good as real actions to counter the lies spread throughout the world by past Exodus action.
“What is needed is true repentance and a conversion to truth telling. The theology of condemnation must be replaced with a theology of grace in the service of God’s good creation-including LGBT people. The trail of emotional, psychological and spiritual damage must be mitigated by evangelistic outreach around the world where the lives of LGBT people hang in the balance at the hands of religious and political leaders who would shed their blood, rape their bodies, and crucify their spirits for their own careers.
“We will not be satisfied until we see Evangelicals bring the same fervor to saving our lives as they have to trying to separate our souls from our God-given sexual orientations and gender identities.
“Around the world, MCC is known as ‘The Human Rights Church’ because we are sometimes the only faith tradition standing up for the lives of LGBT people. Exodus has the opportunity to join us.
“In just days, MCC will celebrate 45 years of ministry and advocacy as we gather in Chicago, July 1-5, for our 25th General Conference. We exhort Exodus leaders to join us. Join us to celebrate the life of Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda who risks his life every day to fight the infamous ‘kill the gays’ bill. We challenge you to sit at the feet of leaders who founded the Global Justice Institute and are working with LGBT leaders in Asia, Africa and Latin America.”
“Words are cheap. Lives are precious,” concluded Dr. Wilson. “Do not disappoint us.”