Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Law Students Walk Out on Homophobic Senator's Commencement Speech

The LGBT community's new nest friend, Andrew Selbst, Esq.
For about 140 graduating University of Michigan law students, their family and friends, LGBT rights are no longer a debatable subject. So when  student Andrew Selbst heard that anti-gay Ohio Senator Rob Portman was scheduled to give the commencement speech at his graduation ceremony last Saturday, he decide he wouldn't stand for it, or sit either.

Selbst recently wrote on his blog:
I will not stand to listen to a homophobe tell me at my graduation that I have the whole world at my disposal, my whole life ahead of me, when he would deny access to a basic part of that world and a basic part of that life to a large portion of my class, my family, and my friends. I will not hear Senator Portman's speech because I will not sit for it. Nor will I be shaking his hand at graduation. I would rather walk out of my own graduation ceremony for which I have waited three long, hard years. I do not yet know how many of my classmates will join me. I can only hope that it doesn't come to that, and either Senator Portman or Dean Caminker manages to rectify the situation so that we can all enjoy what should be a celebratory day.
Selbst decided to stage a walkout when Portman took the podium to demonstrate that LGBT equality is not longer something to be debated, but rather a matter of justice. He wasn't sure how much support we would get from his fellow classmates, but after the event, he wrote, "It was a fun time out in the hall as we looked around and it sank it how many people joined us. I put my conservative estimate beforehand at 40 people - it was more like 140. All in all, I've never been prouder to be at Michigan Law than that moment yesterday. It was truly fantastic."

The following video was taken outside the auditorium. Read Selbst's full account here.

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