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Law school graduates stage walkout to protest Senator’s anti-gay voting record

Monday, May 9, 2011

More than 100 University of Michigan Law School graduates on Saturday staged a walk out during Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s commencement speech in protest of his anti-LGBT voting record.

The students returned to the graduation ceremony when Portman (R) finished speaking, reported

Andrew Potter,

Outside the auditorium, arriving guests were handed a pamphlet explaining the coming protest, and contained a letter from more than 200 Michigan Law alumni to Law School Dean Evan Caminker.

“Senator Portman, in public life, has actively worked to deny some members of the graduating class their civil rights … Our objection is not a political one … rather we are concerned about the message Michigan Law is sending by giving an anti-gay rights speaker the honor of marking what should be a joyful occasion,” the letter read.

About 60 percent of the graduates wore rainbow buttons or flair on their gowns. Family and friends of the graduates wore the rainbow ribbon to show solidarity with grads who would be affected by Portman’s votes.

The students cited Portman’s vote as a congressman in 1996 for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law that said no state is required to recognize a same-sex marriage. DOMA has since been declared unconstitutional in federal court.

The students also cited Portman’s votes in 1999 to bar same-sex couples in Washington, D.C., from adopting, and in 2004 for an unsuccessful bill to amend the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage.

Portman is a 1984 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.

“I couldn’t imagine sitting there, smiling, and being honored by someone who would deny me the right to my civil, human, basic right to marry my partner and raise a family,” said Ringo, a 2011 graduate.

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Filed under: Michigan

11 more reader comments:

  1. Good for them. Way to go…

    Posted on Monday, May 9, 2011 at 8:56pm
  2. yayyy my gf is in law school in Michigan!!! hehe!!

    Posted on Monday, May 9, 2011 at 8:58pm
  3. More power to them!

    Posted on Monday, May 9, 2011 at 8:59pm
  4. Let um’ Have it!

    Posted on Monday, May 9, 2011 at 9:02pm
  5. Sweet

    Posted on Monday, May 9, 2011 at 9:04pm
  6. I’ve never been more proud to be a University of Michigan Wolverines fan.

    Posted on Monday, May 9, 2011 at 9:09pm
  7. I’m proud. U know y? Because u know prob lik 90% weren’t homosexuals. They were prob all heterosexuals but yet they stand side by side with homosexuals…they believe wats right and that brings tears 2 my eyes

    Posted on Monday, May 9, 2011 at 9:21pm
  8. Love it!!

    Posted on Monday, May 9, 2011 at 9:22pm
  9. Great job guys I would have walked out too!!!! I probably would have said PASS!!!!! As he approached the mic to start his speech

    Posted on Monday, May 9, 2011 at 9:24pm
  10. I hope that very soon gay marriage is a reality I know for me and my partner we are waiting and will be waiting for some time because we refuse to relocate and Texas isn’t all that gay friendly. But maybe this and movements like this will make hopes come true.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 2:57am
  11. It’s interesting to see what the future will be in USA, and everywhere for that instance. These people ARE our future. When this generation will get the power in their hands, the world will finally get rid of backward ideologies. Equality is inevitable! Why not just start now?

    Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 10:35am