Virginia's staunchly anti-gay former governor, Bob McDonnell, has been given refuge during his corruption trial by a gay Catholic priest.
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When Bob McDonnell was governor of Virginia, he and his rabidly homophobic attorney general Ken Cuccinelli made no secret of their disdain for the LGBT community. McDonnell not only opposed marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws on principle, one of his first acts as governor was to rescind the executive order enacted by his predecessor, Democratic Governor Tim Kaine, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Governor McDonnell replaced the order with one that left Virginia's LGBT citizens unprotected.
At the time, Hari Sevugan, a spokesman for Governor Kaine, commented on Governor McDonnell's move:
"It says a lot about the Republican party that they would anoint as their 'rising star' someone who in 2010 is actually stripping away from Americans legal protections against discrimination. Bob McDonnell is proving his critics right. He said he'd focus on creating jobs, not social issues. But, one of his first acts as Governor was to make it easier for a fellow citizen to be denied a job and he did so as an adherent to a right-wing ideology that allows for such discriminatory behavior. McDonnell's decision is just plain wrong in any context, but especially so in this economic climate."
Given his open hostility to all things gay, there is some delightful irony to be found in the situation Governor McDonnell now finds himself in. McDonnell and his wife Maureen are facing charges that they conspired to use the governorship to enrich themselves. Their unusual defense has been to claim they could not possibly be part of a conspiracy because their marriage is completely dysfunctional. They barely even spoke, much less colluded.
Now here's the fun part. Helping Governor McDonnell in his defense is Catholic priest Wayne Ball, a gay man. (That's him at right, and in the photo above, which was taken outside of the courthouse - he's the man with the glasses just behind the former governor.) Governor McDonnell is reportedly living with the gay priest, and Father Ball has become part of the former governor's entourage.
Father Ball, who was at the time pastor of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in West Ocean View, Virginia, accidentally outed himself back in December 2002 when he was arrested in his car and charged with frequenting a place used for "lewdness, assignation or prostitution''. Father Ball is said to have been interrupted in the middle of a "lewd" act with a man he had picked up at the site.
Ball notified church officials about his arrest, blaming it on a bout of depression, and promising to seek psychiatric help. Bishop Walter F. Sullivan decided, because the incident did not involve children, that the diocese would not get involved. Bishop Sullivan instead announced that he believed in forgiveness.
Which brings us to Father Ball today, offering shelter to homophobic Governor McDonnell while he helps him stage his defense.
If there is a god, he certainly has a sense of humor.
Feature photo Screenshot from NBC29
Wayne Ball's photo via Twitter