Northam's Anti-Catholic Appointee Resigns After Offensive Tweets Resurface

Appointee made jokes about pedophilia, abortion

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam / Getty Images
August 29, 2019

The Virginia Democrat appointed by embattled Gov. Ralph Northam to an advisory council resigned following public outcry about her history of anti-Catholic statements.

Northam's office initially defended Gail Gordon Donegan, who made jokes about Catholic priests being pedophiles along with other derogatory statements, but she resigned Thursday from the Virginia Council on Women.

Donegan's tweets included statements such as, "Abortion is morally indefensible to Catholic priests bcuz it results in fewer children to rape"; "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"; and "Dr, lawyer & priest on Titantic [sic]. Doc: save the children! lawyer: f--- the children! Priest: Is there time?"

The Richmond Times-Dispatch first reported the existence of the tweets on Friday. Northam's office defended Donegan, citing her "years advocating on behalf of issues important to women across the Commonwealth," adding that the governor "does not condone this language." The report caused outrage among Catholics in the state.

"Ms. Gordon Donegan has a record of ridiculing Catholic beliefs and practices and trafficking in stereotypes that would disqualify her from this role had they targeted any other category of persons. Her statements are offensive to human dignity and fail to reflect the depth of character one would expect of a leader in our Commonwealth," the Catholic Diocese of Arlington said in a statement.

Donegan protected her Twitter account after the tweets made headlines, according to the Washington Examiner. The Catholic Diocese of Arlington called her resignation "a welcome development."

Donegan's appointment is Northam's latest brush with bigotry allegations. The Virginia Democrat faced massive backlash and calls for his resignation after a reporter discovered that he included a photo of an individual in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan attire in his medical school yearbook page. Virginia Democrats eventually apologized for what they described as a "rush to judgment" against Northam, whose lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax faced allegations of sexual assault.

The photo circulated after Virginia Democrats attempted to pass a bill that would have allowed abortion up until birth. Northam spoke out in support of the bill in a radio interview. "The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother," he said.