Amy Coney Barrett - the US judge whi is currently President Donald Trump's pick for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court - has apologised for saying sexuality is a “preference.”
Barrett, a social conservative, made the comment on Tuesday (13 October), on day two of her confirmation hearing for the highest court in the US.
Dodging a question relating to the protection of marriage equality - from Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, on the potential "roll back [of] hard-fought freedoms and protections for the LGBT community" - Barrett said she's “never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not ever discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.”
She added: “Like racism, I think discrimination is abhorrent.”
Barrett, 48, continued: "On the questions of law, however, I just, because I'm a sitting judge and because you can't answer questions without going through the judicial process, can't give answers to those very specific questions."
"Sexual orientation is a key part of a person's identity"
Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii later criticised Barrett for using the term, calling it “offensive and outdated.”
"It's used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice," Hirono added. "It is not. Sexual orientation is a key part of a person's identity. That sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable was a key part of the majority's opinion in Obergefell."
Obergefell v. Hodges is the landmark civil rights case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples.
Barrett is potentially replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on 18 September 2020 (Pictures: Wiki)
Apologising for the use of the term, Barrett - a favourite with Christians and the religious right - later said: "I certainly didn't mean and would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense to the LGBTQ community."
She added that her comments about marriage equality were "certainly not indicating disagreement with it," reports BI.
Barrett also dodged questions on healthcare and abortion during the hearing.
If she passes this stage, Barrett will face a full Senate vote to confirm of deny her a lifelong place in the Supreme Court. If she is approved, the Supreme Court will have a conservative majority, which could have a huge knock-on effect on important legal decisions for long into the future.
Barrett's nomination follows the death of liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on 18 September 2020.