Amy Coney Barrett Called out for Using Offensive Term When Questioned About LGBTQ Rights

Devan McGuinness - Author

Oct. 14 2020, Updated 6:47 p.m. ET

Source: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

The week is heated politically as the nomination for Supreme Court continues. With Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the confirmation hearings to become the next Supreme Court judge, she was asked several questions regarding her political views and cases she's presided over in the past.

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A question came about her views on LGBTQ discrimination, which she replied: "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." This response had many people fired up, but a few others were wondering: Why is "sexual preference" offensive

Why is "sexual preference" an offensive term?

The term "sexual preference" is considered a "dog whistle" or coded language geared towards a specific group of people. It's often used by groups who oppose LQBTQ+ rights. Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ group, regularly uses “sexual preference” instead of “sexual orientation,” USA Today reported.

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After Judge Coney Barrett made the offensive statements, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) confronted her about her use of the term "sexual preference." 

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"Even though you didn’t give a direct answer, I think your response did speak volumes,” Sen. Hirono said. “Not once but twice you used the term ‘sexual preference’ to describe those in the LGBTQ community. And let me make clear: 'sexual preference' is an offensive and outdated term,” she added. “It is used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice.”

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The Hawaii senator continued to explain that labeling sexual orientation as "a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable was a key part of the majority's opinion" in the 2015 decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges case which led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States.

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When pressed about her comment, Barrett tried to apologize for the terms she used, after Sen. Hirono criticized her statement. Barrett said she "certainly didn’t mean and would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense in the LGBTQ community.”

“So if I did, I greatly apologize for that,” she said. “I simply meant to be referring to Obergefell's holding with regard to same-sex marriage."

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The Supreme Court nominee's word choice did not go unnoticed on social media with people responding to the comments with concern over what that could mean about her views. Many stated that her choice of words in her statement are telling to how in touch she is with LGBTQ rights, and how that may play a role in judicial decisions if she were become a Supreme Court Justice.

According to USA Today, which spoke with Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the landmark same-sex marriage case, he said that he was disturbed by Amy Coney Barrett's comments. It “leads me to believe [she] chooses to ignore the scientific proof that sexual orientation and gender identity are normal, innate parts of the human condition, not choices. ... I believe this is further proof of her antipathy toward the LGBTQ+ community.”

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