As with every modern federal judicial nominee from both parties, Judge Amy Coney Barrett repeatedly declined on Tuesday to give her direct opinion on specific legal matters that could come before the court — a norm sometimes referred to as the “Ginsburg Rule.” On a string of hot-button issues, from abortion to gun control to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, Barrett said again and again and again that she cannot talk about her opinions or future rulings for the sake of preserving judicial independence.
But Barrett, a self-described originalist in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, is broadly understood to be a staunch conservative who will be a free vote for Republican policy goals on the bench — and during questioning on LGBTQ rights from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one simple phrase she uttered offered a window into her personal bias.
Asked by Feinstein if she agreed with Scalia’s criticism of same sex marriage ruling, Barrett says: “I’m not going to express a view … I really can’t do that in any point of law” because the issue might come before her. “I would not discrimanate on basis of sexual preference.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 13, 2020
“Sexual preference” is broadly considered to be an outdated and inaccurate description of LGBTQ status, as it implies sexual attraction is something people can choose or control. And many commenters on social media were quick to point out her slip-up.
Barrett used “sexual preference” (not “sexual orientation”) when discussing her views on marriage equality.
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) October 13, 2020
The correct term is sexual orientation. “Sexual preference” is a term often used by anti-LGBTQ activists to imply that sexual orientation is a choice. https://t.co/rT6g95gsG1
— GLAAD (@glaad) October 13, 2020
“Sexual preference.” she’s a federal judge and she has no idea that that term went out of date 10+ years ago.
— John Aravosis 🇺🇸🇬🇷🏳️🌈 (@aravosis) October 13, 2020
Calling it “Sexual preference” is a homophobic way of insinuating that gay people choose to be gay versus being born that way.
She’s anti LGBTQ and a homophobe #AmyConeyBarrett
— Red (@Redpainter1) October 13, 2020
Right: “Sexual preference” the kind of language used by Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm that opposes equal rights for LGBTQ people (including basic non-discrimination protections) and supports the criminalization of homosexuality.
It’s frightening to hear Barrett use it. https://t.co/BhMlDm1EAs
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) October 13, 2020
“Sexual preference,” a term used by Justice Barrett, is offensive and outdated. The term implies sexuality is a choice. It is not. News organizations should not repeat Justice Barrett’s words without providing that important context.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 13, 2020
Judge Barrett is refusing to answer whether she agrees with Scalia’s opposition to same sex marriage and LGBTQ community rights. She is saying that she has never discriminated based on “sexual preference.”
Note: “Sexual orientation” is the accepted term.https://t.co/9vOFXJ44e3
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) October 13, 2020
“I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would never discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.” This is actually false: Barrett sat on the board of a school that refused to accept the children of same-sex couples. https://t.co/cHP7E92eh9
— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) October 13, 2020
I am not surprised that ACB used the language of “sexual preference”. She is a right-wing ideologue and we know where she stands. The question we should be asking is how we can stop a system that is allowing her to be placed in this kind of position of power for life.
— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) October 13, 2020
Watching Amy Coney Barrett sit here and lie for hours on end is not easy. Especially when she refers to things like “sexual preference”, which is a term that the LGBTQ+ community have made pretty clear they don’t like. It implies that their sexuality is a choice. pic.twitter.com/0C4W7a2s2B
— Gregg Housh (@GreggHoush) October 13, 2020
Amy Coney Barrett referred to being gay as a sexual “preference.”
This is code language used to strip LGBT people of their rights.
No gay person says “I think I prefer to be gay,” in the same way they choose between a chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie.
— Michael J. Stern (@MichaelJStern1) October 13, 2020
Barrett used the term “sexual preference,” the big tell that she believes homosexuality is a “choice.”
Which means she believes it can be changed/decided otherwise.
Which means she believes in conversion therapy.
Which certainly means she doesn’t recognize marriage equality.
— Michelangelo Signorile, subscribe to my newsletter (@MSignorile) October 13, 2020