Amy Coney Barrett apologizes after a Democratic senator called her out for using the 'offensive and outdated' term 'sexual preference' to refer to LGBTQ people

Eliza Relman
·2 min read
  • Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the president's Supreme Court nominee, apologized on Tuesday for using the widely criticized term "sexual preference" to refer to LGBTQ Americans' sexual orientations.

  • "I have no agenda, and I do want to be clear that I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not ever discriminate on the basis of sexual preference," Barrett said.

  • Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono later chastised Barrett during her questioning time, pointing out that the term is "offensive and outdated."

  • "I certainly didn't mean and would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense in the LGBTQ community," Barrett said. "If I did, I greatly apologize for that."

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, apologized on Tuesday for using the widely denounced term "sexual preference" to refer to LGBTQ Americans' sexual orientations during her Senate confirmation hearing.

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"I have no agenda, and I do want to be clear that I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not ever discriminate on the basis of sexual preference," Barrett said in an exchange with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein about the landmark 2015 Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage is a constitutionally protected right.

"Like racism, I think discrimination is abhorrent," Barrett added.

Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono criticized Barrett's comment during her questioning time on Tuesday evening.

"'Sexual preference' is an offensive and outdated term.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," Hirono said. "Sexual orientation is a key part of a person's identity."

Barrett suggested that she didn't realize the term was offensive.

"I certainly didn't mean and would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense in the LGBTQ community," Barrett said. "If I did, I greatly apologize for that."

LGBTQ-rights groups and others pointed out on Tuesday that the correct term is "sexual orientation" and that anti-LGBTQ advocates often use "preference" to falsely suggest that a person can select their orientation.

"This is a dogwhistle," Lambda Legal, a top LGBTQ-rights legal-advocacy organization, tweeted. "The term 'sexual preference' is used by opponents of equality to suggest that being #LGBTQ is a choice."

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