When we learned that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam appointed an anti-Catholic bigot to a state council on women’s issues, we went into high gear: we launched a massive protest, enlisting everyone on our email list. Moreover, Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout and Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge spoke out forcefully against her. Three days later she resigned.
Gail Gordon Donegan is a local political activist and a vicious anti-Catholic bigot. Northam appointed her to the Virginia Council on Women, knowing her background. He is the same governor who earlier this year justified selective infanticide. We demanded that he withdraw her appointment “at once!” Instead, she quit.
It would be hard to outdo Donegan’s vile tweets for pure, sustained hatred of Catholics, Catholic priests and Catholic teachings. Here is a sampling:
• “Abortion is morally indefensible to Catholic priests bcuz it results in fewer children to rape.”
• Christmas is “the one time of year the Catholic Church is allowed to focus on a little boy.”
• “Go tell a Catholic they have dirt on their forehead.”
• “Saw a bumper sticker: ‘You can’t be both Catholic & Pro-Choice.’ Add: You can be a pedophile though!”
This is the kind of thing one would expect from a Klansman, not a responsible advocate for women’s issues. There is no place for this kind of hate speech in the halls of government.
Northam’s initial response to our protest was lame. His spokeswoman said the governor “certainly does not condone this language,” a position we labeled “woefully inadequate.” We insisted that the governor step up, arguing that he “must rescind his appointment of Donegan. Anything less will make him complicit in her anti-Catholic bigotry.”
We asked our supporters to contact Northam’s press secretary Alena Yarmosky, providing them with her email address. They did so in droves, driving the decision of Donegan to resign.
The bad news is that an anti-Catholic bigot would ever be appointed to any public position. The good news is that when they are, our side is willing to push back. Victory is sweet.