In 2013, a bipartisan group of 86 members of Congress sent a letter to former U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urging the department to speed up its reevaluation of the lifetime ban on blood donated by men who have sex with men (MSM). Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming was the only Republican.

On September 8, a group of 69 members of Congress sent a similar letter to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the current HHS secretary. No Republicans signed on to this new letter, which also seeks a reevaluation of the deferral of tissue donations from MSM for five years since their last sexual encounter with a man.

A resolution passed by the American Medical Association opposing the current gay blood ban prompted the 2013 letter. This year what prompted the new letter was the recent rejection of donated eyes after the death of a gay 16-year-old who committed suicide. The eyes were rejected because his mother could not confirm her son had not been sexually active.

The new letter cites a timeline by Sebelius to have this review completed by late 2014, which was reiterated by Burwell during her confirmation hearing. The Congress members have requested a written update from HHS within 30 days, Metro Weekly reports.