May 12, 2011 | by Joey DiGuglielmo
National news in brief: May 13

Michigan students walk out on Portman

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — More than 100 graduates at the Michigan Law School walked out of the commencement ceremony last weekend in protest of the appearance of Sen. Rob Portman, a six-term congressman who was tapped by President George W. Bush in 2005 to serve as the U.S. Trade Representative and later director of the Office of Management and the Budget, both cabinet-level positions.

He was elected to the U.S. Senate last November. The protest, according to the Ann Arbor Journal News, stems from Portman’s voting record in which he opposed gay adoption in Washington, D.C., and opposes marriage equality. Protesters said his views are incompatible with human dignity, the paper said. Portman is a 1984 graduate of the school.

A small group of the seniors had an audience with the senator on Saturday morning, but in the end, the walkout was even bigger than Andrew Selbst, unofficial spokesman for the protesting seniors, had hoped.

His conservative estimate was that about 40 students would walk out, but more than 100 students joined him in the lobby while Portman spoke.

Marriage ban slated for Minn. Senate vote

ST. PAUL, Minn. — For the first time, Minnesota’s Senate plans to vote on a ballot measure aimed at banning same-sex marriage in the state Constitution, the Associated Press reported this week.

The vote scheduled for Wednesday would put the proposal half way toward the November 2012 ballot, where a majority vote would enact it. The House, which like the Senate is controlled by Republicans, is expected to follow suit. Proposed constitutional amendments don’t go through the governor, denying Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton a chance to block it, the AP story said.

Groups on both sides of the debate sent out urgent messages to encourage people to contact lawmakers before the vote. Democrats have long prevented a vote by the full Senate but lost their governing majority in the 2010 election.

Gay men more likely to have cancer: study

BOSTON — Sexual orientation could play a role in cancer and quality of life after cancer treatment, according to a new study reported by several news outlets this week.

Researchers found that gay men are 1.9 times more likely than straight men to report having had cancer. They also found that lesbian and bisexual women are more than twice as likely as straight women to report fair or poor health after having cancer. However, the findings do not necessarily mean that being LGB increases the risk of cancer, said study researcher Ulrike Boehmer, of the Boston University School of Public Health.

Rather, access to care, support from others, other diseases and lifestyle are likely factors that could explain the findings, Boehmer said in a piece published by My Health News, an online media outlet.

The study was published online Monday in the journal Cancer.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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