In a blog on Royal Oak Patch, Dr. Fadwa Gillanders raises concerns that if the human rights ordinance passes on Nov. 5, the city might have to prohibit blood drives "because the FDA policy 'discriminates' against the LGBT community."
"FDA policy includes a lifetime deferral (ban) for men who have sex with other men, in order to protect blood recipients from an increased risk of exposure to potentially infected blood. This is because a disproportionately high risk of HIV and hepatitis C and B—among many other infections—is associated with homosexual behavior," writes Gillanders, who is a spokesperson for Just Royal Oak.
Gillanders and others held a news conference Thursday outside a Shrine of the Little Flower High School blood drive to demonstrate that American Red Cross blood drives could be at risk.
City Attorney: 'It would not be a violation of the ordinance'
From the city's perspective, if the ordinance is adapted, blood drives would not be prohibited from rejecting or deferring a donor based upon the same type of criteria that the Red Cross uses, according to City Attorney David Gillam.
"It would not be a violation of the ordinance," Gillam said. The ordinance has language that allows exceptions for a "bona fide business necessity."
Martha Kurtz, communications program manager for the American Red Cross of Southeastern Michigan, told the Detroit Free Press, to her knowledge, there have been no closures of blood collections since 29 communities in Michigan have enacted versions of human rights ordinances.
Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, which enforces its own company human rights policy, also hosts blood drives all the time, according to a hospital spokesperson.
And banning blood drives isn't an issue for the city of Ann Arbor, which has had a human rights ordinance in place since 1978.
"I have been here for 10 years and it's never been an issue," said Nancy Niemela, senior assistant to the City Attorney, Ann Arbor. "The city holds blood drives and the University (of Michigan) has blood drives all the time."
'Bona fide necessity'
Ann Arbor's ordinance protects the LBGT community and those with HIV status against housing, employment and public accommodation discrimination, except for where there is a bona fide business necessity, Niemela said. Blood screening would be a bona fide business necessity, she said.
Niemela added in her decade of service with Ann Arbor that there have been very few complaints in general regarding the city's human rights measures.
"I think that's in part because Ann Arbor is a pretty progressive city," Niemela said.
Royal Oak's ordinance, which is modeled after Ann Arbor's version, also includes "bona fide business necessity" language in Section 9, Gillam said.
"As far as the city is concerned, maintaining the integrity of the blood supply, and having requirements and policies in place to do that, would be considered a bona fide business necessity," Gillam said.
"The opposition is proving the point that there is a small minority that will stop at nothing to discriminate against fairness," said City Commissioner Jim Rasor, a vocal proponent of Proposal A, of Gillanders' statements.