FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Fresno was among over 60 cities where the drive took place. Organizers asked friends and family of gay men to donate blood on their behalf. Red shirts were the only thing separating the donors who came to support their cause at the Central California Blood Center.
Candace Johnson is a long-time blood donor. She said, "It's always been important to me and when I heard there's stipulations in place that do not allow anybody who's bisexual or gay to give blood - I don't agree with that."
Bob Lieder added, "I'm here as an ally. A gay ally to donate in place of my friends who because they're gay cannot donate."
All blood banks in the us must abide by a Food and Drug Administration rule which in 1983 banned gay and bisexual men from donating blood.
CEO Dean Eller says the blood bank doesn't get caught up in the politics of the issue. He explained, "The blood center is apolitical. We need blood."
Eller said all eligible donors are accepted. He added donated blood is always tested. "They're here to bring a friend to donate in the place of a gay man. It's a noble cause for them to do that."
Outside of the blood center organizers of the drive urged people to sign petitions to end a ban they say perpetuates negative stereotypes. Local organizer Paul Clark said, "Obviously we want to make a statement and encourage the FDA to reconsider this ban because its outdated and unnecessary."
Clark said the blood drive was meant to raise awareness. The blood drive was held coast to coast from Los Angeles and Dallas to Washington DC and New York City.