Barrett apologizes for calling sexual orientation a 'preference'

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Amy Coney Barrett apologized Tuesday for referring to sexual orientation as a "preference" during the second day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

"I certainly didn't mean and would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense to the LGBTQ community," Barrett said, after questioning by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). "So, if I did, I greatly apologize for that. I simply meant to be referring to Obergefell's ruling with respect to same-sex marriage."

Barrett made the remark earlier in the day before the Senate Judiciary Committee when asked by the panel about Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court case that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) had asked Barrett, a conservative-leaning judge who clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia, if she shared the late Supreme Court justice's dissenting views on the case.

Barrett responded by saying she had "no agenda" and that "I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.”

The comment quickly caught the attention of Democrats and LGBTQ rights activists who denounced the term "sexual preference" as dated and implying sexuality was a choice. Hirono said the term was "offensive and outdated."

Barrett largely evaded questions Tuesday on how she would rule on specific issues, as is the general practice in Supreme Court confirmation hearings. But her claim to have never discriminated against the LGBTQ community rang hollow after a New York Times profile revealed she had served on the board of an Indiana private school that barred admission to students of unmarried parents when same-sex marriage was not yet legalized in the state.