Wednesday, December 20, 2006

President of "Catholic Citizenship" attacks gay marriage advocate

Open Letter to: Catholic Citizenship

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am horrified and disgusted to read the reports [below] of the vicious physical assault by your cowardly and bullying president, Larry Cirignano, on a young woman exercising her legitimate right to peaceful protest.

Gay communities around the world have sadly become all too accustomed to the manifest manifold evils of religion in general, and, in particular, to the irrational, vitriolic splutterings of a succession of catholic popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, and other obsessive-compulsives,
[when not engaged in committing, condoning, or covering up crimes such as child abuse, slavery, the oppression of other vulnerable minorities, warmongering, or making obscene profits from these or similar activities].

Must we fear that such loutish behaviour by your brutish leaders, desperately seeking to promote your pernicious faith, will seek to progress from unprovoked physical assaults an isolated young women to the terror tactics employed by psychotic Israeli soldiers, African evangelical savages, and muslim mass-murderers?

I trust that this shameful incident will cause the scales to fall from the eyes of at least some of your trusting flock, leading them to ditch your hateful doctrines and to begin to use their brains, stultified by a lifetime of ritual abuse, to learn to think for themselves.

We read that the anglican federation is already fragmenting. I hope soon to read also of the collapse of the catholic empire.

Yours faithlessly,

John Hunt.

A gay marriage supporter was viciously attacked near Boston when she demonstrated against Catholic Citizenshop's anti-gay rally.

Sarah Loy, 27, a straight female gay marriage supporter, went to a rally organised by conservative groups VoteOnMarriage and Catholic Citizenship in Worchester, Massachusetts, the only state where gay marriage is legal.

Loy, who attended with her husband, and a few other gay supporters, went to the rally and staged a counter-protest. Loy held a sign saying "No discrimination in the Constitution" in reference to Conservative efforts to abolish gay marriage on a federal level.

The rally marked one of many which aim to pressure the Massachusetts legislature to vote on the proposed amendment.

Leader of Catholic Citizenship Larry Cirignano led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, and then apparently saw Loy and lunged at her, tackling her to the ground.

"You need to get out. You need to get out of here right now," he theatened as he pushed her to the ground, her head slamming against the concrete sidewalk, according to the Worchester Telegram & Gazette.

The rally continued without any protest from the Catholic group, as a teary Loy yelled, "That's what hate does, that what hate does", before leaving the scene.

Loy has spoken to the police and charges may be brought against Cirignano.

Tom Lang, gay marriage supporter in Loy's group, commented on the aggressiveness of the Catholic leader.

"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."

Anti-gay complaint is filed
Assault is alleged at Worcester rally
WORCESTER­ Police have filed a criminal complaint against the executive director of Boston-based Catholic Citizenship on allegations he pushed a female counter-demonstrator to the ground during an anti-gay marriage rally Saturday outside City Hall.

Detective Capt. Edward J. McGinn Jr. said police yesterday filed an assault and battery complaint in Central District Court against Larry Cirignano, 50, of 15 County Lane, Canton, who heads the Catholic Citizenship group, which opposes gay marriage.

Mr. Cirignano will be summoned to court to attend a clerk magistrate hearing on the misdemeanor charge. The magistrate will determine if there is probable cause to continue the charge in court, the captain said.

In general, police can arrest someone on a misdemeanor charge only if it occurs in their presence and it amounts to a breach in the peace, Capt. McGinn said. Officers did not see what happened Saturday.

Sarah Loy, 27, of Worcester, was holding a sign in defense of same-sex marriage near anti-gay marriage protesters. Mr. Cirignano allegedly ran into the crowd, grabbed Ms. Loy by both shoulders and told her, “You need to get out. You need to get out of here right now.”

Mr. Cirignano allegedly pushed her to the ground.

“I want him to be held accountable for his action, and I hope he will be,” Ms. Loy said in an interview yesterday.

Police are still investigating whether a hate crime occurred, but say at this point it doesn’t appear to be such a crime, Capt. McGinn said.

“We want to see if there was something more than simple assault and battery,” the captain said. Witnesses will be interviewed, he said.

In the moments before the confrontation, Ms. Loy said, she moved a little closer to the group of anti-gay marriage protesters at the rally. She was the only gay marriage supporter in the group of people she moved into, she said. That’s when the assault allegedly occurred.

“I didn’t see him. I don’t know where he came from,” she said.

At the rally, Mr. Cirignano explained after the incident that he felt Ms. Loy was getting too close to the lectern. Police eventually moved Ms. Loy and the other counter-demonstrators behind the larger anti-gay marriage crowd.

Ms. Loy argued that it was her right to stand wherever she wanted.

Ronal C. Madnick, director of the Worcester County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said Mr. Cirignano should have asked police to move Ms. Loy back before approaching Ms. Loy. Mr. Madnick was at the rally.

“He (Mr. Cirignano) should have gone over to a police officer and asked a police officer to get involved,” Mr. Madnick said. “I am sure whatever the police officer said would have been obeyed.

“I don’t think there is a disagreement he put his hand on her and pushed her to the ground.”

Mr. Cirignano did not return calls yesterday seeking comment on the criminal complaint. In the moments after the confrontation, police interviewed Mr. Cirignano but did not arrest him. In an interview with The Boston Globe Sunday, he acknowledged guiding the woman away from the event with his arm on her back, but said he had a portfolio in his left hand and did not knock her down.

“I promise you, I did not throw her to the ground,” he said.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New GHQ Out Now!

GHQ4.jpgIt's shameless plug time again. The Autumn edition of GHQ is now available for free download from the Gay Humanist Quarterly website. It is a PDF a smidgen over 2mb.

In this edition, there is an interview with long-standing GALHA secretary, George Broadhead on the occasion of his National Secular Society Lifetime Achievement Award, and an article about a project that demonstrated that 'traditional marriage' isn't necessary the in the 'tradition' that some think it is - by reconstructing the medieval Church's same-sex blessing ceremonies.

There is a primer on Hizb ut Tahrir's unsavoury constitution and Peter Tatchell writes about why he whiffs hypocrisy in those who do not want their religious beliefs ‘offended’.

In an op-ed, I explain why I think that some gay Muslims are misguided in their assumptions about other faiths, particularly when attempting to draw parallels with their experience of religious homophobia.

Terry Sanderson reviews the life and art of Marlene Dietrich and Tony Challis reports back from the Edinburgh Festival.

Warren Allen Smith provides gossip from across the pond, while Brian Miller dissects the recent US elections while noting that both the Republicans & the Democrats use cynical homophobia as an election ploy.

And of course, the usual round-up of news, views and reviews, blasphemy, sacrilege and godlessness in this "certified 100% faith free" quarterly.

PS: If you ever wondered what evangelical preacher George Hargreaves produced in his former life as a writer of disco anthems, or you're curious about what newbie Scientologists are told in their 'orientation' programme - or you just want to see the miracle of Jesus appearing in a dog's bottom... then you'll find details enclosed