Health care vigil calls on Lieberman’s conscience

STAMFORD, Conn. – Over 500 Connecticut supporters of health care with a strong public option gathered in front of Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s home for an interfaith prayer vigil Sunday, in response to his statement that his conscience would not allow him to support such a bill. Participants traveled from all parts to Connecticut to join the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care in a candlelight march from Stamford High School, Lieberman’s alma mater, to his home across the street.

The march reflected anger and frustration throughout the state at Lieberman’s refusal to respond to public opinion, despite thousands of letters, phone calls, e-mails and rallies outside his Hartford office. The clergy, of all denominations, made it clear that the time for health care reform and health care for all is now.

By the end of 2009 over 300,000 Connecticut residents and millions of Americans will be without health care, while the insurance industry collects billions of dollars in profits. A Quinnipiac Poll issued Thursday showed 56% of Connecticut voters in support of a public option with 37% opposed.

Rabbi Ron Fish noted that the American Medical Association and the largest senior organization in the United States, AARP, have endorsed health care reform. He said the clergy were adding their voice as a matter of conscience. Recently Sen. Lieberman said he would filibuster any health care reform with a public option. Last week told Chris Wallace on Fox News, “If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote.”

Rabbi Fish stated, “The moral imperative for our time is clear. Anyone whose guide in public policy is conscience, anyone who argues that faith and religious traditions should direct our actions, such a person must stand for universal health care in America.”

A police officer in front of Lieberman’s home stopped Rabbi Fuchs and Pastor Abraham Hernandez from delivering prayer cards that were written by the hundreds of people at the vigil. The police explained that the doorman could not accept the prayer cards and was just doing what he was told. The crowd started shouting, “Take our prayers – Take our prayers.” But the police refused.

Shirley Binin, a neighbor of Sen. Lieberman who was participating in the vigil, volunteered to deliver the prayer cards to his condo.

The event received coverage in a few mainstream media outlets, breaking through the barrier of media silence. Mainstream news outlets have ignored previous actions calling upon Lieberman to support health care with a public option. The Hartford Courant, Connecticut’s only statewide newspaper, did not cover the event.




Tom Connolly
Tom Connolly

Tom Connolly is a retiree labor and social justice activist writing from Connecticut.