Sen. Hirono: LGBTQ Community Should Be Concerned How Barrett Uses Word ‘Sexual Preference’

Sen. Hirono: LGBTQ Community Should Be Concerned How Barrett Uses Word ‘Sexual Preference’


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s use of the term “sexual preference” should be a loud warning to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, according to a high-profile progressive Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Barrett’s use of the term, which is typically considered outmoded and not reflective of LGBTQ reality, came up as Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii questioned Barrett on her views on marriage equality.

Barrett, a federal judge since 2017 and a law professor, is Donald Trump’s pick to quickly fill the seat on the high court which opened up with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“So even though you didn’t give a direct answer, I think your response did speak volumes. Not once but twice, you used the term ‘sexual preference’ to describe those in the LGBTQ community,” Hirono told Barrett. “Let me make clear — ‘sexual preference’ is an offensive and outdated term. It is used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice. It is not. Sexual orientation is a key part of a person’s identity.

“That sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable was a key part of the majority’s decision in Obergefell which, by the way, Scalia did not agree with,” Hirono added, referring to Obergefell v Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court decision which for the first time made same-sex marriage legal nationwide, as well as the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a vocal court conservative who strongly dissented.

Barrett has called Scalia a mentor and a model for her own approach to the law.

“So if it is your view that sexual orientation is merely a preference, as you noted, then the LGBTQ community should be rightly concerned whether you would uphold their constitutional right to marry,” she said. “I do not think that you used the term ‘sexual preference’ as just — I don’t think it was an accident.”

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