Virginia Governor's Appointee to Women's Council Resigns After Her Anti-Catholic Tweets Surface

By Michael W. Chapman | August 29, 2019 | 11:16am EDT
Gail Gordon Donegan. (Twitter)

( -- Gail Gordon Donegan, whose appointment to the Virginia Council on Women was announced by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Aug. 16, revealed on Aug. 28 that she is resigning from the council and acknowledged that some of her "jokes" on Twitter over the years had "crossed the line." Donegan also said she apologizes "to those that were hurt by them."

Because of her tweets on Catholicism, the bishops who lead the Dioceses of Arlington and Richmond had called on Gov. Northam on Tuesday to rescind Donegan's appointment. They said her tweets "demonstrated a pattern of ridiculing Catholic beliefs and employing stereotypes designed to malign people of faith."  The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights had described Donegan as "a vicious anti-Catholic bigot."

(Twitter, Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Among her tweets, Donegan had remarked, “Abortion is morally indefensible to Catholic priests bcuz it results in fewer children to rape.” 

"Today I submitted my letter of resignation to the Governor and will no longer serve as a member of the Virginia Council on Women," said Donegan on Wednesday. "I do not wish to distract from the important work of the Council. I will have no further comment besides this statement."

"I’ve spent over a decade working on behalf of important women’s issues in Virginia," she said. "At the same time, I have also been the author of a twitter account that focused on covering Northern Virginia politics from a satirical angle from Alexandria -- which is why the account is named @satirclalx. I recognize that some of the jokes I told crossed the line, and I apologize to those who were hurt by them."

Donegan continued, "Because of my recent advocacy, a small group decided to target the worst of my tens of thousands of tweets and paint a false picture of who I am. This group was upset because I recently helped defeat them in a local primary. They went to a reporter -- Patrick Wilson -- who shares their agenda. He wrote a lazy cut and paste piece from these activists -- where he even forgot in his outreach to change the word 'she' to 'you' as you can see in the image below."

(Twitter, Richmond Times-Dispatch)

"One of the activists involved even messaged me after the article appeared and claimed to have written it for the reporter," said Donegan.  "I won’t allow this unethical behavior to further distract from the important work of this Council, so I will resign today -- but I will be taking legal action in the near future to ensure this small group is never able to smear someone like this again."

"This incident is just another chapter in the bullying that women activists face every day on social media."

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D).  

Following Donegan's announcement, the Catholic League said in a press release, "We've learned that Gail Gordon Donegan, the anti-Catholic bigot named by Gov. Ralph Northam to the Virginia Council on Women, has resigned. This is welcome news.

"Following Donegan's appointment, it was revealed that she has been spewing forth a torrent of vile, hate-filled anti-Catholic twitter messages. This led to an outpouring of protest from Catholics, which has now resulted in her stepping down.

"We commend Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington for speaking out forcefully on this matter and inspiring the Catholic faithful of Virginia to do so as well."

The American Atheists expressed support for Donegan. “The Richmond Diocese wanted to silence Gail Gordan Donegan precisely because she was so spot-on in her analysis,” said American Atheists spokesman Tom Van Denburgh, as reported in Patheos.  “It is hypocritical that the Church claims to protect life, all while spending billions of dollars covering up sex abuse and fighting accountability at every turn.”

“As atheists, we have a duty to tell the truth about the harms of religion, and that’s exactly what Gail did," said Van Denburgh. 

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