Watch These Law Students Walk Out on Their Anti-Gay Commencement Speaker

Posted by Cord Jefferson

michiganwalkout
Last month we told you that the University of Michigan's law school was in the midst of a battle over this year's commencement speaker, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). Portman, though politically successful, has also voted many times against equal rights for gay Americans, and his track record naturally rankled Michigan's LGBT students, who felt Portman was an inappropriate commencement speaker. "We do not believe that people who oppose gay rights should never have the opportunity to speak at Michigan Law," a group of alumni wrote in a letter to the dean, Evan Caminker. "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 for every member of the graduating class."

Caminker ignored the complaints and allowed Portman to speak anyway on Saturday, prompting a cadre of students 100 strong to walk out in solidarity. Andrew Selbst, the man in the video below whose sister is an openly gay poker professional, explained the walkout thusly on his blog:

The walkout was a statement to a broader audience - America. I think this whole episode fits within the thesis of Minnesota Law Professor Dale Carpenter's recent New York Times Op-Ed about King & Spaulding's withdrawal from defending DOMA: The legal profession has simply moved past the point where LGBT rights are just another political issue, instead recognizing that discriminating against any group of people based on who they are is simply unacceptable in today's society. This walkout, like the Op-Ed, like the Justice Department's refusal to defend DOMA, is another data point for this observation. Here, even more specifically, we were saying that the [sic] for the next generation of lawyers, this is not even a debatable issue.

Emphasis ours. Here's the video.