Sunday, December 17, 2006

Let the People Vote... Or Else

That seems to be the Catholic Citizenship Group's stance, as its leader - Larry Cirignano - allegedly assaulted a pro-marriage equality protester during Worcester's Team Homophobia December Meetup 2006 event. Sure, I blogged about it earlier here, but since then I've developed a few additional questions. Mainly, the credibility of the entire "let the people vote" camp is even more questionable than it already was.

Wait a minute, do they even have any credibility left? After all, the same people who claim 'we just want to vote' were blatantly homophobic just a few years ago. Now they're beating up unarmed, peaceful women. Are people really going to pay any attention to an organization that claims to only want to give people a vote, when its leadership is using physical attacks, fear tactics, semantically-charged repackaged rhetoric and the suppression of free speech as its main tools to defeat marriage equality? Not likely.

Certainly, they won't get any support from BMG diarist Rollbiz, a witness who helped get the woman Cirignano attacked to safety.

I was 10 feet away, and I saw it. I had to go and pick her up off the pavement, comfort her, and get her the hell out of there.... Cirignano took her by the shoulders, with both hands, and shoved her to the ground. I saw it, and I don't think there was any misinterpreting his intent. He meant to hurt her.
Hopefully, Larry's hateful, drastic action symbolized a tipping point in Massachusetts. Only desperate people resort to fear tactics - people who know they're wrong, know they're losing and are damn angry about it. It often comes from people who are bitterly trying to reject their own personal feelings - after all, homophobic people are quite frequently gay themselves, often just projecting their own fears and homophobia onto others who have embraced their self, instead of allowing it to fester and destroy them. Instead of allowing it to foster within them until they decide to bring down every openly gay person in this state, gay people in Massachusetts finally can choose to "celebrate" instead of remain "celebrate," as Larry put it.

Marriage is a direct threat to people like Larry not because it threatens to bring families down or cause "God" to smite Boston, but because it means that suddenly it's becoming acceptable to become openly gay. That's anathema to people who spent their entire lives in the closet because they couldn't accept themselves for who they really are. It means people can come out of the closet - and people like Larry just don't think anyone has any business doing that. People who refused to admit that part of themselves exist are so afraid of that, they'll use physical violence to make sure no one can enjoy the rights they didn't allow themselves to have because they succombed to society's peer pressure. Too bad for them.

So what's going to happen to Catholic Citizens, Vote on Marriage and all the other homophobic organizations that Larry was either a part of or embraced by? Will Larry be removed as head of Catholic Citizens? Will members of the organizations continue to associate with an organization who's leaders physically attack opponents? What will Cardinal O'Malley's reaction be, as the prince of all things Catholic in the Boston Archdiocese and one of this country's Catholic leaders? Will he condemn the violence? Will he say that it's not the Catholic way? As Captain of the Catholics, he bears some responsibility for the action of its lay-leadership. After all, he was a big supporter of these rallies and still supports the amendment to ban marriage equality.

The credibility of the entire Catholic Church rests on the actions taken by its leadership. People don't want to be a part of an organization that sponsors or tolerates hate and physical assault. Cardinal O'Mally must immediately distance himself from Larry Cirignano and the entire Catholic Citizenship Group's actions in Worcester and elsewhere. They have no credibility and are just repackaging semantics in an attempt to ban equal rights in Massachusetts. No one can say it's 'just about the vote,' anymore - not when an innocent woman is attacked.

Update: Tom Lang, of, had this to say as a witness to the event:

What was so unusual and calculated about Larry Cirignano's assault on Sarah Loy was that he left the podium area right after he gave his speech and pushed Sarah to the ground, then he returned back to the podium to stand next to Evelyn Reilly and Kris Mineau as they waited for Ambassador Flynn. This was not your average "heated moment." This was a premeditated, aggressive and uncalled-for assault by the President of the Catholic Citizenship on a young lady who was exercising her right to assemble, protest and voice her free speech...the key components to our American Democracy. And wasn't THAT supposed to be what this rally was organized for? Or maybe Larry Cirignano was not aware of this.
Also, Mike - as always - offers great commentary. Especially poignant is watching rightwingnutopia squirm as it tries to justify what happened (after all, it's her fault Cirignano charged 30 feet from his podium to attack a protester anyway and all planned of course).


John Hosty said...

I find Cirignano's actions inexcusable, and it would be in everyone's mutual best interests to rid ourselves of leaders like this, no matter what our cause.

I cannot fathom anyone trying to rationalize a grown man throwing a woman to the ground, let alone the fact it was unprovoked.

Tom Lang said...

Good post and great blogsite Ryan.

Thanks for doing what you do!

Ryan Adams said...

And yet, people do, John.

Thanks for reading, Tom. I really like what you do too!

Anonymous said...

You know, this is another reason why I don't want to see gay marriage on the ballot.

Because it would be approved by the voters.

And then what? Lunatics who are obsessed with other people's private lives would just admit defeat and go away meekly?

Hell no, they'd become more and more violent and deranged. It's better to have them distracted by getting signatures and holding rallies to give them something to do with all their free time other than physically attack people. If this ever gets on the ballot, it will not be good.

Anonymous said...

I was at the rally. The WOMAN was acting AGGRESSIVELY by making her way into the heart of the crowd that was demonstrating with the apparent intention of causing as much disruption as possible near those who were speaking. Then everyone acts surprised when aggression is returned. I'm not saying the reaction was right, just that it was provoked (perhaps intentionally). Had the woman stayed with her group, this would not have happened. Indeed, when she got up, her aggression didn't stop. The police had to prevent her from re-entering the crowd and causing more trouble for herself and others.

You gay folks want gay marriage? OK - Just play by the rules and sell the concept to the public instead of paying people off through back-room deals and other methods to subvert the rights of the rest of us.

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