During the second day of Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearings, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) admonished the Supreme Court nominee for using the term "sexual preference," while Joe Biden himself used the term in May.
Hirono also expressed disappointment that Barrett declined to "give a direct answer" on whether she agreed with the 2015 Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide.
"Let me be clear, sexual preference is an offensive and outdated term," the Senator said. "It is used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice. It is not. Sexual orientation is a key part of a person's identity."
Barrett apologized for using the term after Sen. Hirono scolded her, saying she didn't mean to use the term in the way Hirono had described it. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), however, later brought up the term.
"When you did use the term 'sexual preference' earlier today, rather than 'sexual orientation,' is there a difference, and what is it?" Booker asked Barrett.
"Senator, I really- in using that word, I did not mean to imply that I think that, you know... that it is not an immutable characteristic, or that it's solely a matter of preference," Barrett said. "I honestly did not mean any offense, or to make any statement by that."
"But by what you just said, you understand about that immutable characteristic. That in other words, that one's sexuality is not a preference, it is who they are. Is that what you're saying?" Booker asked.
"Senator, I'm saying I was not trying to make any comment on it," Barrett elaborated. "I fully respect all the rights of the LGBT community. Obergefell is an important precedent of the court. I reject any kind of discrimination on any sort of basis."
However, the Trump campaign later fired back in Hirono's direction by tweeting a video of Biden using the same term in May. Biden is shown participating in a virtual campaign, saying it's "time to bring everybody along regardless of color, sexual preference, their backgrounds."
A report from the Christian Post additionally outlined numerous instances of mainstream media outlets and pro-LGBT activists using the same term.