Gay is the new black

By Shay Castle
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This week the blood bank bus was once again on the campus of Valencia, providing a much needed service, but at the same time perpetuating a system of fear, ignorance and discrimination. If you have had sex with a partner of the same sex, even once, since 1977, you cannot give the life-saving gift of blood.

The regulation has roots in reason, but the AIDS scare of the 1980’s is over. While over half of all new HIV infections still occur in the homosexual community, blood can now be screened for the virus. Straight people who have had sex with an HIV-infected partner only need to wait a year before donating blood, so clearly a ‘risky lifestyle’ is a non-issue.

Such discriminatory practices are socially acceptable, pushed as political platforms by politicians, carefully packaged as ‘protection of traditional values.’ It is frustrating to watch potential presidential nominees advocate for ‘individual rights’ when the right they are fighting for is the right to hate.

Politicians in the 1960’s championed ‘states’ rights’ as a way to continue Jim Crow laws that denied rights to black citizens. Just as Lyndon Johnson was ‘not against blacks but for states’ rights,’ so is the new Republican party in relation to homosexuals.

To quote the Bible (which conservatives frequently do to support their position) ‘He who is not with me is against me’ (Matthew 12:30.) You cannot in one breath say you ‘love’ homosexuals (ahem, Michele Bachmann) and in the next deny them equal rights.

Social pressure eventually forced politicians to abandon their hateful positions (if not their private prejudices) against black citizens. It is time to exert the same pressure, to push for an end to the social acceptability of discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is time to grant rights to the individual, rather than continuing to ostracize groups based on one part of their individuality, be it ethnicity, gender, or sexuality.

Refuse to accept thinly-veiled hate speech from politicians. Prejudice today is just as wrong as it was in the 60’s, no matter who it is leveled against. Let us be the generation that achieves equality for a new constituency. Let’s end the hate.