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Amy Coney Barrett says being LGBTQ is a ‘sexual preference’

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  • Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett used the widely-denounced term “sexual preference” to refer to LGBTQ Americans’ sexual orientation during her Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
  • LGBTQ rights organizations and others quickly pointed out that the correct term is “sexual orientation” and that anti-LGBTQ activists use the term “preference” to suggest that gender identity and sexual orientation are a choice. 
  • Barrett refused to say whether she agreed with the landmark 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that same-sex marriage is a constitutionally protected right.
  • Barrett also falsely claimed that she has “never discriminated on the basis on sexual preference.” She sat on the board of an Indiana private school that barred children of unmarried couples when same-sex marriage was illegal in the state, The New York Times reported. 
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Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett used the widely-denounced term “sexual preference” to refer to LGBTQ Americans’ sexual orientation during her Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, sparking widespread criticism from LGBTQ rights advocates and others. 

Barrett refused to say whether she agreed with the landmark 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that same-sex marriage is a constitutionally protected right. Barrett said recently that she holds the same judicial philosophy as former conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked in the late 1990s. 

Scalia dissented in the Obergefell case and argued that same-sex marriage is not a legal right. 

“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 response to questioning about Obergefell on Tuesday. “Like racism, I think discrimination is abhorrent.” 

LGBTQ rights organizations and others quickly pointed out that the correct term is “sexual orientation” and that anti-LGBTQ activists often use the term “preference” to falsely claim that gender identity and sexual orientation are a choice. 

“This is a dogwhistle,” Lambda Legal, a top LGBTQ rights legal advocacy organization, tweeted in response to Barrett’s answer. “The term ‘sexual preference’ is used by opponents of equality to suggest that being #LGBTQ is a choice.” 

Critics also pointed out that Barrett has, in fact, discriminated against LGBTQ people. Between 2015 and 2017, Barrett served on the board of trustees of Trinity Schools Incorporated, a group of Indiana private schools that adopted a policy in 2014 to bar children with unmarried parents from attending the school, The New York Times reported. Because same-sex marriage was then banned in Indiana, this was clearly designed to ban the children of same-sex couples, former Trinity school staffers told The Times. 

On Tuesday, Barrett elaborated on her originalist interpretation of the Constitution. 

“The text is text, and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it,” she said. “It does not change over time, and it is not up to me to update it or infuse my own views into it.”

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