Police have filed
an assault charge against the executive director of
Boston-based Catholic Citizenship in the attack on a woman
protesting the group's antigay rally Saturday outside
City Hall in Worcester, Mass. Sarah Loy, 27, a
straight supporter of same-sex marriage, says she was
pushed to the ground by Larry Cirignano at the rally.
Catholic Citizenship's leader, used the rally to call
on the Massachusetts legislature to vote on a proposed
state constitutional amendment to halt same-sex
marriages there. Last month state lawmakers recessed
for the year without acting on the antigay proposal.
Loy, who attended
with her husband and a few gay allies, went to the
rally and staged a counterprotest. She held a sign saying
"No discrimination in the constitution." When
Cirignano saw Loy, she said, he stepped down from the
podium and lunged at her, tackling her to the ground.
"You need to get
out. You need to get out of here right now," he
threatened as he pushed her, her head slamming against the
concrete sidewalk, according to the Worcester
continued without any protest from the Catholic group, as a
teary Loy yelled, "That's what hate does, that's what hate
does," before leaving the scene.
Tom Lang, a
same-sex marriage supporter in Loy's group, said the
attack was surprisingly aggressive. "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," he said. "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."
In a statement
e-mailed to reporters, Cirignano said he just
"escorted the lady back into the crowd.... I never touched
her shoulders, and she apparently thought that she
could draw a foul like it was a basketball game by
not Academy Award material," he added.
campaign director Marc Solomon called for Cirignano to
"clean out his desk." "Sarah Loy had every right to
peacefully hold her ground, and this aggressive action by a
leader of the opposition should not be allowed to
stand," Solomon said in a written statement. "This was
more than intemperance. Individuals can make mistakes,
but movement leaders must respond to a higher standard. In
this, Mr. Cirignano clearly failed, and he should go."
Citizenship was founded by former Boston mayor Raymond Flynn
to guide Catholics in political activism, TheBoston Globe reported. A court hearing on the
misdemeanor assault charge is pending. (Hassan Mirza and
Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate)