An anti-gay pastor declared that gay people were “AIDS dispensers” during a rant criticizing the recent loosening of restrictions on gay and bisexual blood donors.
Jason Graber, a New Independent Fundamental Baptist preacher at Sure Foundation Baptist Church in Spokane, Washington, made the comments during a recent sermon. As has become common, Graber launched into a tirade against homosexuality, according to reporter and activist Hehmet Mehta, who authors the Friendly Atheist substack.
Graber said that former President Donald Trump made “a bunch of mistakes,” including relaxing restrictions on donor eligibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the categorical deferral period — the period between when a person last has sex and donates blood — for gay and bisexual male donors was reduced from a year to three months. Part of the rationale for that move was to allow gay and bi men who had recovered from COVID to donate plasma that could be used to treat those COVID patients in intensive care.
“One of the big mistakes I think [Trump] made were they were having a campaign to make it so that f****ts could donate blood,” Graber said. “That’s a stupid thing to do. You’re gonna kill a lot of people by doing that. I mean we call them AIDS dispensers for a reason.”
The crowd yelled in agreement, encouraging Graber to go further.
“No f****t should be able to donate blood,” he said, “but then again no f****t should be able to breathe air.”
Graber’s rant appears to have been sparked by a recent Food & Drug Administration announcement that the agency, which in part regulates the rules regarding eligibility for blood donors, intends to move from a categorical deferral of all gay men to a risk-based assessment given to all donors, regardless of biological sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Under the new criteria, all donors will be asked if they have had any new sexual partners in the past three months, and whether they’ve engaged in anal intercourse in the past three months. Those who answer no to both questions are eligible to donate, as will monogamous gay and bisexual men. Those who answer yes will be asked to abstain from sex for three months before donating, as will individuals who have exchanged sex for money or drugs, IV drug users, or those who have tested positive for or been treated for STDs such syphilis or gonorrhea.
Prospective donors on pre-exposure prophylaxis — daily medication that reduces a person’s risk of contracting HIV — will be barred from donating as long as they are taking PrEP, and will have to wait three months before donating if taking PrEP orally, and two years if taking PrEP in injectable form.
Blood establishments will still be required to test all blood donations for evidence of HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, which provides an additional level of safeguards to ensure the blood supply is safe.
Much of the opposition to a universal donor questionnaire with an individualized risk assessment — which will now also flag heterosexual people engaging in risky sex or drug behaviors, who were previously allowed to donate — comes from social conservatives hostile to LGBTQ people, or anti-“woke” activists who oppose the government taking action to “pander” to the LGBTQ community.
In that sense, it’s not surprising that Graber would embrace anti-LGBTQ messaging in response to the FDA’s actions. He has previously called for the execution of gay people, and has railed against the alleged “grooming” of students in school, saying teachers who are LGBTQ-friendly or accepting, or talk about topics tangentially related to homosexuality should be “taken out and shot in the back of the head” or be “publicly beheaded,” with their executions streamed live on TV, according to OnlySky.
Graber, much like other New IFB preachers like Fort Worth-area pastor Jonathan Shelley and Tempe-based pastor Steven Anderson, frequently rails against homosexuality. All three men frequently make anti-LGBTQ animus a cornerstone of their sermons, which they then post on social media, gaining them followers and allowing them to reach a wider audience. They’ve celebrated the deaths of LGBTQ people in tragedies such as the Pulse nightclub massacre, and regularly call for turning the United States into a theocratic society in which homosexuals would be executed.
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