Bill Donohue: (gay) adoption doesn't count

When Laurie Goodstein wrote in the New York Times about the Catholic Church's attempt to compel SNAP to release its records, she got "no comment" from the church's lawyers and personnel. So, like any journalist with a deadline, she turned to "William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a church advocacy group in New York," for his take:

Mr. Donohue said leading bishops he knew had resolved to fight back more aggressively against the group: "The bishops have come together collectively. I can't give you the names, but theres a growing consensus on the part of the bishops that they had better toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough. We don't need altar boys."

He said bishops were also rethinking their approach of paying large settlements to groups of victims. "The church has been too quick to write a check, and I think they've realized it would be a lot less expensive in the long run if we fought them one by one," Mr. Donohue said.

He can't give you the names, but man, if he could, you'd be so totally impressed, because Donohue is on the inside track! This was followed by a quote from USCCB spokesperson Sr. Mary Ann Walsh insisting that Donohue was wrong and "there is no national strategy." When I read that article, I thought, "Given how eager he is to use them to get attention for himself, perhaps the bishops will learn to be wary of embracing Donohue and lending him credibility as an 'advocate' for their cause." A week later, Archbishop Dolan wrote a post on his blog on the New York archdiocesan website linking to a "report" on the SNAP story by "Catholic League president William A. Donohue, Ph.D." (Italics his.) So much for that.

I mention all this because today, the resolutely crude political satire blog Wonkette took notice of a recent tweet from Donohue, from which blogger Rebecca Schoenkopf drew the joking conclusion that "Catholics Are Against Adoption Now." Attempting to defend Mitt Romney's wife from CNN commentator Hilary Rosen, who said something dumb about Ann Romney never having "worked a day in her life," the Catholic League responded:

had to adopt

I'm pleased that Wonkette's Schoenkopf referred to Donohue as "head of the fringe rightwing group the Catholic League," rather than inflating his significance or influence (as he surely would prefer). But it's hard for me to protest when people like Goodstein go to Donohue for comment on the bishops' behalf, considering the pats on the back he keeps getting from people who actually are significant and influential -- like the president of the USCCB and archbishop of the diocese in which Donohue is based. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who surely ought to know better, gives Donohue friendly cover on a regular basis. "I am glad to express my encouragement for the work he does," Dolan wrote in 2010. "Keep at it, Bill! We need you!"

Bill Donohue does much of that work via Twitter. I hadn't seen the Catholic League's Twitter feed before today (my exposure to most of its output is via fax), but in that venue, Donohue devotes a great deal of his attention and time to promoting homophobia for its own sake. Some recent observations:

lesbians!

and:

cute

And this came just before his tweet about Hilary Rosen:

bikini wax

(Psst: I think he means the gays.)

Is it for the sake of defending religious liberty that Donohue scours every edition of the New York Times for evidence that those awful homosexuals are at it again ("it" being, apparently, existing)? This ugly obsession -- expressed at times in relation to the Catholic Church and at other times simply as a hobby, but always under the banner of the "Catholic League" -- should be enough to keep any bishop from embracing Donohue and his "advocacy." Apparently it isn't. But surely the tweet Wonkette noticed today qualifies as a PR problem. Not for Donohue, of course, for whom any attention is good ("Glad to know Hilary's fans are in a state of apoplexy," he later tweeted, completely missing the point as usual: "You'd think she was outed by their hysterical reaction. Get over it and grow up"), but for the church he loves to claim to speak for. The man is so intent on attacking gays that he is now attacking adoptive parenting in general, just because it's something that gay people do. Is that really something Catholics "need"?

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.

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