Massachusetts Hub

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Challenges FDA Gay Blood Ban: 'Have the Courage to Set Policies Based on Science'

1069185_10151577989208687_1095263248_nLast week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) again spoke out against the FDA's new blood donation policy —  accepting blood from gay men, but only those who have been abstinent for at least one year.

Through Twitter, Warren called for concrete, alternative methods of ensuring blood safety, challenging the FDA to shake up the status quo.

Here's the Tweet:

This statement is in line with the recent letter, signed by 80 congressional Democrats including Warren, which called for "risk-based blood donation policy," and stated:

The pertinent scientific question is not whether a cross-section of the population is more likely than another to transmit an infection, but rather whether an across-the-board, risk-based screening will reduce the likelihood of all infectious contaminations.

In related news, the FDA released a statement this week saying it had considered individual self-assessments, but did not find them reliable:

"Assessment of high-risk sexual behaviors would be highly burdensome on blood donation establishments and potentially offensive to donors." 

John Aravosis over at AMERICAblog has some colorful commentary on the FDA's recent response:

So to recap, the FDA believes that a total stranger asking a man if he’s gay — a highly personal, and for some embarrassing, admission that could get you fired from your job, and disowned by your family — is not “offensive.”

Nor is it offensive to ask a gay man when the last time is he screwed another guy.

But if you ask a straight man whether he’s monogamous, how non-monogamous he is (how many different partners he’s had), and whether he use condoms during intercourse, suddenly the FDA becomes a collective prude.

I try not to over-use the word “homophobia.” But the FDA’s response to this mess is deplorable, offensive, and homophobic.

What do you think of the one-year deferral policy and the FDA's handling of the situation?

Appeals Court Denies Gender Reassignment For Trans Prisoner: VIDEO

  Michelle Kosilek

The full First Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a ruling that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must provide an incarcerated transgender woman with medically-necessary gender reassignment surgery, reports Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

The Court of Appeals issued an initial ruling in January upholding an earlier finding that the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) engaged in a pattern of “pretense, pretext and prevarication” to deny Michelle Kosilek (above) treatment against the recommendations of multiple doctors, including those hired by the DOC itself. Born Robert Kosilek, Michelle Kosilek is serving a life sentence for the murder of her wife Cheryl (below, right) in 1990.

Cheryl KosilekThe latest decision was divided with a 3-2 majority and two sharply worded dissents.

Predicting that the case will not stand the test of time, Judge Thompson wrote:

“I am confident that I would not need to pen this dissent, over twenty years after Kosilek’s quest for constitutionally adequate medical care began, were she not seeking a treatment that many see as strange or immoral. Prejudice and fear of the unfamiliar have undoubtedly played a role in this matter’s protraction.”

Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLAD, said:

“I am appalled by this decision, which means that Michelle Kosilek will continue to be denied the life-saving medical care she needs and has been seeking for years.  

"It is difficult or impossible to imagine a decision like this one – that second-guesses every factual determination made by the trial court – in the context of any other prisoner health care case.  

"This decision is a testament to how much work remains to be done to get transgender people’s health care needs on par with others in the general public.

“There is no scientific or medical basis for denying transgender people their health care needs. The consensus position of the medical community is that surgery may sometimes be essential treatment.”

Watch a report on a television interview with Kosilek, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Appeals Court Denies Gender Reassignment For Trans Prisoner: VIDEO" »

Gay Veterans To March In Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade - VIDEO

St Patricks Day parade Boston 2015

Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will next year include representatives of gay veterans group OutVets, reports ABC News.

The parade’s organizers the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which in 1995 won a Supreme Court decision upholding their right to ban gay groups from the parade, yesterday voted 5-4 to allow OutVets to march in the parade scheduled for March 15th. The group has also been given permission to carry a blue banner with five white stars representing the branches of the military, and six vertical rainbow stripes.

6a00d8341c730253ef01a3fcce3e89970b-800wiBryan Bishop, OutVets founder and U.S. Air Force veteran, said:

"I think it's very significant. Ensuring that there is 100 percent inclusivity is important."

Council commander Brian Mahoney added that OutVets is being allowed to march because of their military service, not sexual orientation:

"This conforms to the tenets of the parade. The parade is devoted to honoring the service of veterans. It's is our aim to honor that service and the history of the Irish Catholics in Boston. Anything that detracts from that is verboten."

This year, LGBT group MassEquality was invited to take part in the parade but the invitation was later rescinded. Boston mayor Marty Walsh refused to take part last March because of the exclusion of LGBT people. Sam Adams beer also pulled out as sponsor of the parade.

In a similar move, Guinness dropped sponsorship of New York’s controversial St Patrick’s Day parade this year.

Watch Mahoney discuss his reasons for pulling out of the parade, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Veterans To March In Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade - VIDEO" »

Little Girl Shouts Down Bible-Thumping Salem Street Preacher: WATCH

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 9.50.31 AM

Street preachers are confrontational by nature, but this Salem evangelist got a lot more than he bargained for when a little girl showed up and decided to give him a piece of her spectacular pre-teen fashion of course. 

"Blah blah blah blah blah. Stop talking, no one listens!"


Continue reading "Little Girl Shouts Down Bible-Thumping Salem Street Preacher: WATCH" »

Democrat Maura Healey to Become Nation's First Openly Gay Attorney General, in Massachusetts

HealeyDemocrat Maura Healey won her race for Massachusetts Attorney General and will become the nation's first openly LGBT attorney general, beating Republican John Miller.

With 80% of the vote in, Healey is leading 63% to 37%.

Said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement:

"Maura Healey is one of the staunchest advocates for equality we have in this country, and we join her in celebrating her historic victory tonight. As the nation's first openly gay attorney general, she is an inspirational trailblazer and will fight to guarantee civil rights and legal equality for all people of Massachusetts."


Gay Republican Congressional Candidate Richard Tisei Loses In Massachusetts

6a00d8341c730253ef01a5118b1dd7970c-120wiThe Boston Globe reports that out gay Republican candidate for congress Richard Tisei has lost the race for Massachussetts' hotly contested sixth congressional district to Iraqi war veteran and Democratic newcomer Seth Moulton:

“Seth has served his country very admirably and very honorably in the military and I’m sure he’s going to do the same as the next Congressman from this district,” Tisei said in a concession speech.

He said the country faces a lot of problems and “it’s important for both Democrats and Republicans to get together in Washington to try to solve those problems.”

Moulton, 36, who lives in Salem, made his mark in September by beating nine-term incumbent US Representative John F. Tierney in the Democratic primary. Tisei, 52, a real estate agent from Lynnfield who served in the state Legislature for 26 years, had nearly succeeded in toppling Tierney two years earlier, losing by less than 1 percentage point.

Tisei previously boycotted the GOP's state convention over its anti-gay platform. That did nothing however to endear him to former Massachussetts representative Barney Frank from urging voters not to support Tisei. 


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