GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Since 1983, a ban by the US Food and Drug Administration has prevented gay and bisexual men from being able to donate blood.
In regards to the ban, dozens of people in Gulfport stepped up to participate in a National Gay Blood Drive, in efforts to bring awareness and urge the FDA to change the blood ban to help save lives.
"The idea of stopping willing participants from donating blood is just wrong when it could be used to save valuable lives," National Gay Blood Drive leader Jeff White-Perkins said.
One by one, eligible blood donators made their way to sign their names on the blood donor list. Some there to give blood in honor of someone gay or bisexual that they know, or for anyone gay or bisexual that doesn't have the legal opportunity to give blood.
"There's too many people that go without being able to have an opportunity to do something like this, so why take that away?" Jennifer Pierce said. "The importance is everybody standing together and standing up for what's right. And what's right is humanity and people being able to do the right thing."
Julie Sides Pierce came to donate blood in honor of her gay daughter and all other gay and bisexual couples. Donating blood for this great cause brings tears to her eyes but a smile to her heart. knowing that she is helping to send message nationwide.
"She's my baby and I love her. And I want her to be able to have the same rights as any other family," Julie said.
"It always does it when your mom cries. I mean just what she says. This is important for everybody. Blood is screened no matter what, so why should someone that is able to donate blood, not be able to donate blood?" Jennifer Pierce said.
The Pierce family, along with many others, hope this can be the first step to bringing the awareness to officials in Washington. All of Saturday's statements by donors will be sent to the FDA, asking them to lift the ban.
There was also a White House petition at the beginning of the month, asking the Obama administration to do away with the ban.