UPPER EAST SIDE — Anthony Weiner called a current ban on blood donations from gay men "wildly counterintuitive" discrimination and said he would work to change the policy if elected mayor.
The mayoral hopeful, speaking outside the New York Blood Center on Thursday, made his remarks just a day after the Supreme Court defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act, granting same-sex couples the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples — signifying increased momentum for gay rights in the United States.
Weiner said it was time for to reverse the FDA's 1983 decision — a rule made at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic when questions abounded about blood contamination.
"Perhaps the regulation at that time might have made some sense," he said. "Many of those fears are now unfounded. We have to overcome fear and start letting science overcome the conversation."
The policy is so out-of-place today, in fact, that it raises more eyebrows than any of Weiner's other policy proposals, he said.
"Of all the ideas in the idea book, the one we get perhaps the most questions about because it's so wildly counterintuitive," he said, referring to his campaign book that lists his policy ideas.
Citing estimates that up to 260,000 gay men in New York would be able to donate blood, Weiner claimed that allowing even 5 percent of them to donate could save up to 40,000 lives.
"This is discrimination in a place that we really can't afford," he said.
Weiner alluded to a 2010 City Council resolution slamming the ban and a Queens College decision to end a blood drive because it excluded gays as proof that New Yorkers would support this policy.
"I'm going to make sure that my commissioner of health stands up every day and tries to change this," he said.
When asked by reporters whether he could unilaterally effect change, Weiner admitted that municipal decree might not apply across the United States, but he remained optimistic, saying New York has "renown for being a leader in some of these national policies."
Weiner was joined at the podium by Brad Baso, a 34-year-old Williamsburg resident who longs to give blood.
"It's really disappointing," Baso said. "I'd like to see science prevail."