Worcester Marriage Rally Gets Ugly

When the going gets tough, the tough get…violent?

It sure seemed so yesterday at the VoteOnMarriage rally at City Hall in Worcester. As reported in today’s Telegram and Gazette:

Tempers boiled over at an anti-gay marriage rally yesterday when the executive director of the Boston-based Catholic Citizenship emerged from behind a lectern outside City Hall, rushed toward a female counter-demonstrator, and pushed her to the ground.

Sarah Loy, 27, of Worcester was holding a sign in defense of same-sex marriage amid a sea of green “Let the People Vote” signs when Larry Cirignano of Canton, who heads the Catholic Citizenship group, ran into the crowd, grabbed her by both shoulders and told her, “You need to get out. You need to get out of here right now.” Mr. Cirignano then pushed her to the ground, her head slamming against the concrete sidewalk.

Yeah, it happened. Just like this. 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. More after the flip…

Ms. Loy, admittedly, was in a section of the rally where she should have expected some resistance to her presence. But to be shoved to the ground by a 240+lb. man so hard that her head hit the pavement? It was completely uncalled for, to state the obvious. That it was done by the executive director of Catholic Citizenship just further underscores the vitriol and viciousness behind this campaign. It’s a reminder of exactly why this initiative needs to be killed ASAP. Can you imagine the nastiness that two more years of campaigning for and against this discriminatory initiative would cause?

Another deeply disturbing aspect of this situation was the 20 or so people that stood around her after she was down on the ground, crying, and did nothing.

Police interviewed Mr. Cirignano, but did not arrest him. Ms. Loy said she intended to file a complaint against him.

This is sad, but not surprising. There were several witnesses who all gave similar accounts of the altercation, and yet police let this man walk free. It wasn’t a bump or a jostle. 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. However, several Worcester police on the detail seemed to know and associate with organizers from the VoteOnMarriage side.

Afterward, Ms. Loy, in tears, arose and yelled to no one in particular, “That’s what hate does. That’s what hate does.”

That pretty much sums it up. So, what can we do?

-If you were there and you saw anything, contact the Worcester Police Department. Let them know your account of what happened.

-Write a Letter to The Editor to the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

-Contact Catholic Citizenship and let them know what you think about the actions of their Executive Director, Mr. Larry Cirignano.

-Recommend this post, so that it doesn’t fall into oblivion.

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53 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Thanks for Covering This

    This is an outrageuos act of a person of Mr. Cirignano's leadership position. Violence is never a solution, and the fact that he attacked this woman without provocation makes me sick to my stomach.

    On a side note, it's Mrs. Loy; her husband's name is Brian. I was there too. I can't wait for them to start lying about htis because someone we know has the whole thing on video. This is a wake up call for all those people who try to fool themselves into thinking this is not about hate. This guy could have really hurt her, and this type of behavior cannot be allowed on either side of this issue. The leadership of these organizations have a responsibility to address this quickly and desisively unless the want to risk people thinking they actually condone violence.

    This one is destined to go from the frying pan into the fire.

    • Thanks

      For your nice words, and for clearing her marital status up. To be honest, I'd never met her before the incident yesterday, so I wouldn't know. I just saw what happened, and I saw her head smack the concrete. I have medical training, so I went to help and also to make sure there was at least one person between her and the angry bunch around her.

      And yeah, I sincerely hope this goes right into the fire. I'll post this anywhere that will take it, I'll talk to anyone that will listen...I want the story out, because unacceptable doesn't even begin to describe it.

      • Heres a place to send it:

        Until Jan. 9th he's STILL the Mayor of Worcester  and it happened right outside his window(though being Saturday he wasn't there) So send a whole bunch of emails to Tim Murray, Mayor of Worcester, at the following email address:

        mayor @ci.worcester.ma.us

        Also you could send it to all the City Councilors also.

        One blanket email will get a CC to ALL10 others...


        I was going by on the bus, on my way home, just as they were forming the rally, and the first thought I had was this was gonna be ugly....I hate it when I am that right about things that go on in this City......

        I'm sure this one was to be a black eye for our future Lt. Governor and yes,  it's about (their) hate.

    • I'm glad someone has video

      because look how it's being covered in the press:

      Gay Marriage Advocate Beaten At Mass. Rally

      Catholic group leader denies pushing activist

      Talk about a credibility gap.

      Let's go to the videotape!

    • Point of Clarification

      Not to be a stickler, but the whole point of "Ms." was to eliminate the identification of a woman's marital status inherent in the use of Miss or Mrs. With Ms., you don't know if she's married or not, and you shouldn't need to know, just as if he's a Mr., and he always is, you don't know. So much for the enlightened liberal.

      • Re-clarification

        Mrs. Loy, as she calls herself, wants people to know she is a straight married woman who just happens to support equality, and her husband was in attendance of this event. I know because I spoke to her and her husband myself, so get off the soapbox please.

    • Someone is claiming she wasn't pushed


  2. Good post

    I incorporated some of your words in my most recent blog about this event, hope you don't mind.

    The "let the people vote" crowd has NO CREDIBILITY anymore. I hope no one on BMG even comes close to associating with them anymore, or anything they stand for. As far as I'm concerned, this event show's what they're really up to and explains just why they must be shunned and not get their way.

    • NONE?

      With whom does the "Let the People Vote crowd" have NO CREDIBILITY?  They seem to have an awful lot of credilbility with about half the state.  Most of whom we cannot affect by belittling them, but rather engaging them?

      A lot of this is hatred, true.  But hatred is so often borne of ignorance, and ignorance can be engaged.  Anybody who has gone door to door for marriage equality knows that these is a lot of confusion and fear that can be clarified, and so many people nominalyl against marriage equality can be reached. 

      Chortling that violence at one rally "show's what they're really up to" is a great way to push away that mushy middle that says they're against marriage equality while voting for people who favor it.  I'm not going to abandon these people who mean so well and are yet so wrong.  It's bad for our community, and its bad for those of us who fight for marriage equality.

      If we don't "associate" with these folks, how are we to convince them that their opinions are so deeply wrong? 

      sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
      • $quot;Half the state?$quot;

        I don't think so. I think these are extremists with only a tenuous relationship to the potential majority that might, maybe, vote against marriage as it now stands if it ever gets on the ballot. (Or maybe not.)

        It very much remains to be seen whether this larger group will care much about being denied the right to have this vote.

        They might--the potential for backlash is real--but some might equally be relieved not to have the whole ugly business in their faces. Stuff like this just makes it uglier.

        I think your point about not abandoning these people is well taken. However, the anti-marriage voters, and the potential anti-marriage voters, are not an undifferentiated mass led by Larry Cirignano. It is legitimate to drive home the profound differences between the uneasy voter and the ultra zealous fringe that is driving this ballot campaign.

        • My bad

          After clicking submit I realized I hadn't been clear enough differentiating between the group and their leadership.  The leadership is largely overrun with hateful dreck, many from other parts of the country, but they don't represent so many of their supporters.  It's those people we should be able to peel away. 

          sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
      • Sabutai

        The Catholic Citizen's leader just beat up an innocent woman protesting peacefully. Until that organization removes its leader, apologizes and says "never again," while enacting measures to back the claim up ... they have no credibility.

        That doesn't mean I'm abandoning everyone who's mushy or could be turned. I'm absolutely in favor of engaging them and I write blogs engaging them all the time. You took my words way out of context. No where did I say we should abandon everyone who isn't on our side. That would be stupid.

        But you're damn right people shouldn't associate with the Cirignanos of the world or what he stands for.

      • no credibility in lower case too!

        First, I have to say the circumlocution "let the people vote crowd" is a bit disingenuous. Certainly a majority of the "pro-vote crowd" consists of plain homophobes who just want gay people to disappear (Sabutai, you seem almost willing to admit this) and are willing, for example, to push them to the ground to achieve that end. Possibly there is a smallish minority that wants to be able to vote on marriage equality but to vote for it. Possibly too there is an irrational minority that just loves gay people to death but just doesn't want gay people to marry.

        So let me ignore these weird minorities and just call these folks the ones who don't want gay people to marry. They lack moral credibility. They claim to be morally upright, but if they act like thugs, they aren't morally upright.

        No one is chortling about this, by the way. I'm sure Rollbiz and anyone who witnessed what happened is shaking not chortling. Signs of thuggishness from a right wing that gets to watch pro-thug Ann Coulter on TV are not a cause for chortling.

        Finally, I'm not sure we want to engage in some kind of polite, rational dialog with every element of the right. I think we should not be afraid of discrediting some parts of the right, i.e., pushing their opinions outside the Overton window. The civil rights victories of the 1960s were not possible without discrediting racist and segrationist parts of the right. No one would imagine engaging in a polite, rational argument with those taking Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrat platform. Our goal in the whole gay rights arena is to make sure that all sorts of homophobic sentiments are too embarassing to even debate.

    • No credibility

      Because you type in it caps it's credible.  Without a vote, the 'pro vote crowd' will have the necessary votes for another legislature con-con within months. 

      How can you credibly argue that such a significant faction is not credible?

      • To you, and sabutai

        I have no illusions that the opposition is anything less than credible. I have tried, and still do try, to understand the opposition. I have written about such conversations. But it just seems to be getting worse, and this incident was the very example of it.

        Things get vicious on both sides. Verbally, people are less than nice to each other. But when things get physical, particularly when a man slams a woman half his size to the pavement, we have a real problem. The movement loses some of the little credibility I once was willing to grant them.

        So, to both gary and sabutai's points, it's not so much that this will derail the VoteOnMarriage movement...Indeed, I'm sure a few of those supporters enjoyed the show. What it can and hopefully will do is to show some of those on the fence what the leadership of this bunch is made of, and perhaps some of those folks will think twice before deciding to associate with Catholic Citizenship, or give them money, etc. I'd really like to think that, whatever side people were on yesterday, when they saw or heard about this happening they could see it as an example of things being taken waaaay too far.

      • We'll see

        Maybe they will, maybe they won't, but every year we have more and more legislators on our side. Even if they put the bill down, I'd be shocked if there wasn't another movement to force a ballot question. The "let the people vote" slogan is just that - a slogan. They're only trying out new, repackaged, semantically-charged rhetoric because they realized telling people that their marriages would be ruined if marriage equality were allowed obviously wasn't working in Massachusetts.

    • Ryan

      Thanks for quoting me, and I do not mind at all...

      I agree with you completely, except for the credibility aspect. I've discussed it below, but dismiss this group as incredible at your own peril. What I really hope to do is at least make sure that those who might give time, money, or kind words to Catholic Citizenship, Mr. Cirignano, or the like know exactly what this person specifically is capable of. (I'd also love if Catholic Citizenship were to be flooded with phone calls and emails expressing public disgust with the incident...Any help?)

      • Oh, they've been dismissed.

        Any group who's leader assualt's a protester is NOT credible. That doesn't mean they can't gain their credibility back, but as of now its gone until Cirignano is gone too - and changes are made to make sure what happened never happens again.

        Like I said above, that doesn't mean I don't think everyone in the "let the people vote" crowd isn't credible. Indeed, I think there have been many credible voices... even David's made some good points, especially on constitutionality. However, Catholic Citizens isn't credible as of Saturday, when its leader allegedly committed assault and battery. They need to make major changes to gain what little credibilty they had back.

        • Oh no

          You and I totally agree on this point. When I speak of credibility, I speak of the VoteOnMarriage group as a whole, not this man of a man who assaults women.

  3. I wasn't there...

    but I read the article in the T&G this morning and it sure sounds like assault and battery to me.  The guy should be arrested and charged.  If he isn't, the police are complicit in the crime.  Is "filing a complaint" equivalent to pressing charges?  I assume Sarah knows her way around the legal ins and outs of this; she works for Legal Services.  But I think any of you that were there and saw it should help her make the charges stick. 

  4. I wasn't there

    so I would like to see the video before I go condemning people.  There is NO excuse for violence in that situation and if it was a forceful assault then he should certainly apologize.

    That said, I've met Larry on a number of occasions and I cant possibly imagine him purposefully inflicting any type of physical harm on anyone else.  He is very conservative, to be sure, but not a hateful or violent person. 

    Last time I saw him was about a year ago when I happened to run into him in DC, of all places.  He may have put on weight since then, but then (and all the time I have known him) he didn't come anywhere close to weighing 240.

    Do we know who has the video, and when we can expect it online?

    • A man put his hands on a woman

      and shoved her to the ground in front of dozens of witnesses and you can't bring yourself to find that condemnable without seeing it on video? 


      • Unbelieveable

        What's unbelieveable is that you take the word "wittness" and turn it into "dozens of witnesses", you ignore the other witnesses that say he didn't shove her, you ignore his own words where he denies shoving her, you ignore the fact that despite "having her head slamed to the concrete" she has no injuries (how is that likely?), police investigate but haven't reached a judgement.

        Yet, you know better.

        I've no idea what happened.  Clearly, if he shoved her to the ground, it's criminal.  But unless you were there or there's better evidence,  your condemnation is nothing but frantic.

        • Ummm

          I personally know of at least THREE witnesses. However, as it happened in the middle of the crown, I'm sure "dozens" applies.

          That said: John Hosty, Tom Lang and Rollbiz are three people off the top of my head who saw it happen.

          • wait

            add Chris Mason of takemassaction to the list. Really, Gary, a quick look at www.leftyblogs.com/massachusetts would reveal this...

            (And substitute "crown" for "crowd" LOL)

      • Thats right, because

        he has publicly denied it, and I know him and don't believe it to be in his character.  So, since I wasn't there, I want to see it before I pass judgment on him. 

        The rally was Saturday.  Its been almost 24 hours since this was posted and there are almost 50 comments on this thread.  Surely someone must have access to the video.

    • Me, too.

      I have also met him across a table as it were, and he is an elderly, overweight man.  I'd really like to see a video, because this is just shocking to me.  Not making excuses, just reserving judgment.

      • Are we talking about the same person?

        The Larry Cirigano that heads Catholic Citizenship that I know is not elderly.  Hes maybe in his 50s.  I'm a young guy, but I wouldn't go so far as to say 50 was elderly!

        • Explained elsewhere..

          ...on Ryan's thread, that there is more than one Cirignio, active in conservative circles, and the one I know is not the one in Worcester.  Which is a relief.

        • Larry, not John

          Larry Cirigano, head of Catholic Citizenship, is the Worcester Brute.

          John Cirigano is a friend or acquaintence of Peter Porcupines, and is NOT the Worcester Brute (unless he had an extreme makeover).

          Peter, I can see why you would be releived to learn there's two Cirigano's out there!

    • How do you really know?

      Do you think you would be able to pick out those with violent tempers among people you met at a cocktail party? The fact is that almost no one seems like the kind of person to do such a thing until you seem them in the kind of situation that brings it out.

      • Kevin - I agree....

        ...which is why I am reserving judgement.

      • BTW - I've never even BEEN to a cocktail party (as I don't drink) - I meant a meeting table.

      • It wasnt a cocktail party

        The interactions I've had with him have been substantial enough so that I can get a good sense of him.  Like I said, if he did do it and I can see the video of it, then I will absolutely condemn the act.  Until then, I'm going to withhold judgment.

        • Sorry, PP

          didnt see your comment below.

        • Assault is already admitted

          In Larry Cirignano's statement he already admits to putting his hands on her. Whether that touching was to "escort" her like he says or not, unwelcome touching is considered assault. This is the law and there is no arguing it away, but there is much more to this story than what is being admitted. Go over to KnowThyNeighbor.org or TakeMassAction and see some of the crazy emails he has sent people.

          Since there is a call for proof, check out BayWindows on Thursday.

  5. Rollbiz - Keep Your Mouth Shut!

    You are witness. (10 feet away) There will be a criminal complaint applied for. There will be a hearing and if a complaint issues off to trial you may go.

    So, take some free advice and shut-up because his attorney is going to make you look foolish no matter what. The more you write the more artillary he has.

    Remember Galuccio?

    By the way, 10 point deduction for this line "It's a reminder of exactly why this initiative needs to be killed ASAP"

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • That's fine

      I said what I saw. I included it in an article about the rally and the incident in which I state my opinion of it, but I still saw what I saw, and that's the facts.

    • You can give me $quot;zeros$quot; for this one

      eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  6. Man I'm Dumb..

    I can't believe I fell for RollBiz's story. I should have known better. Thanks Gary.

    RollBiz you are gonna look like such an idiot when you are cross-examined. The legal jargon for what you are is "a lay-up". Keep using that word "slammed".

    Get the police report RollBiz, please. And post it. "several witnesses who all gave similar accounts of the altercation"

    P.S. assault and battery is a misdemeanor which means the police have to witness it to arrest. If not witnessed then the procedure is to file for a criminal complaint. Will the Worcester Police file for it? Or will they decline? The victim can file the application for a complaint at any time.

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  7. I Just Read Worcester Telegram Article. I'm Sorry

    no link RollBiz?

    This guy definite;y did it. Damn. He's toast by the way. The ACLU guy and reporter are gold.

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  8. Thanks to Ryan...

    ...who posted a photo, I now know that the Cirignano that I know is not involved...here's a link to my acquaintance...


    And IMHO, mistakes like that are WHY we need that videotape!

    • np [n/t]

    • I understand you confusion,

      Peter.  I have known a few mild-mannered men who I've seen fly into absolute rages.  Until you see it happen to someone you are familiar with, it is hard to fathom.  But it does happen.  And I've also seen PLENTY of men act territorially, virtually peeing on fence posts.  Looks like Larry had a touch of "rightous" rage, lubricated with a drop of territoriality ("WE got the permit for these steps, not YOU!!").  My guess is that when you've been across the table from Larry, you were discussing a common agenda.  The situation in Worcester...I think you see the difference.

  9. Bay Windows interview request

    Hi rollbiz,

    I'm writing a story for this week's Bay Windows on what happened in Worcester, and I would love to speak to you to get your account of what happened. It would be great if you could give me a call at 617-266-6670 x208 or drop me a line at ejacobs@baywindows.com letting me know the best way to reach you. Hopefully we can talk sometime today.

    Thanks so much for your help.

    best, Ethan Jacobs Staff reporter Bay Windows

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