HARTFORD — Mark Nati, of Wallingford, may soon join the 15.7 million Americans who have found themselves without a job.
He works for the Pratt & Whitney Cheshire Plant, which has announced plans to close its doors early next year. That means 1,000 more people will become unemployed in Connecticut, which also means 1,000 more people without health insurance.
On Tuesday, Nati, wearing a yellow t-shirt that read, “healthcare4every1.org,” stood outside Independent U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman’s Hartford office to show that he, along with the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care, opposed Lieberman’s plan to filibuster health care reform legislation.
“I believe Mr. Lieberman needs to hear the people of Connecticut. Many of us want a public option,” he said, referring to a proposed public health care plan.
He stood outside in the bitter cold, while a handful of clergypersons from the Interfaith Fellowship, went inside Constitution Plaza and delivered handwritten prayers to a representative from Lieberman’s office. On Nov. 15, more than 500 people from across the state stood outside Lieberman’s Stamford condo, calling for the senator to support health care reform. However, neither Lieberman nor his staff, made an appearance at the rally to receive hundreds of handwritten prayers those in attendance attempted to submit.
So, clergy tried again on Tuesday by bringing those prayers directly to Lieberman’s office. Nati said health care is a spiritual matter and applauds Connecticut clergy for getting involved in the issue.
“Clergy are obviously leaders in the community and they’re getting people of all faiths to do this necessary work,” he said.
Before entering the office (the press was not allowed inside), Rev. Josh Pawelek, of Unitarian Universalist Society East prayed aloud to the modest crowd.
“We’re aware, as people of faith, that there’s so many things that can divide us,” he said. “But this morning, we’re not divided.”
He said people of all creeds have been united over the health care issue.
Pawelek urged politicians to stop “squabbling,” and to follow the clergy’s example, and work toward the common good.
“Now is the time for saving lives. Now is the time for justice,” he said. “Now is the time for health care reform in the United States.”
After his adoration, Pawelek and his fellow clergymen entered the building and visited in the lobby with a representative from Lieberman’s office.
The Rev. James Walker, of Phillips Metropolitan C.M.E. Church, reported that the letters, along with a book and a signed letter from Connecticut clergy, were accepted by Deputy State Director and Counsel, Laura Cahill.
“We presented her with what best represents our best wishes and our hopes for this choice when this vote comes up in the Senate,” he said. “It is our hope then, that upon hearing our voices, upon hearing our concerns, and upon receiving the prayers that it will make a difference. We believe that we should leave here feeling encouraged…and believing our efforts have not been in vain. We came here for a job, came here to pray, and we believe now those prayers will be answered.”
On Friday, the Senate is expected to begin debating health care reform.