In an exchange with the National Review, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) refused to call for an apology from presidential candidate Joe Biden for using the same offensive term she confronted Judge Amy Coney Barrett for using during confirmation hearings last week.
During Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Barrett, Hirono called the Supreme Court nominee’s use of the term “sexual preference” “offensive and outdated”. She said that term is “used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice.”
“It is not,” Senator Hirono declared while questioning President Trump’s Supreme Court Justice nominee.
As has been pointed out by many since then, former Vice President Joe Biden used the term “sexual preference” as recently as this past May.
Barrett apologized for her comments. “I certainly didn’t mean and, you know, would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense in the LBGTQ community,” she told Hirono. “So if I did, I greatly apologize for that.”
And when Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) addressed the term as well, Judge Barrett again apologized and clarified her original meaning: “In using that word I did not mean to imply that it is not an immutable characteristic or that it’s solely a preference. I fully respect the rights of the LGBTQ community. Obergefell was an important precedent of the court.”
In the days following, the political left has largely embraced Senator Hirono’s interpretation of “sexual preference”, despite the fact that the term was regularly used by the mass media and political candidates alike. That is, until Judge Barrett used the term.
No one on the political left, however, has asked Biden about his comments in May, nor have they requested an apology.
John McCormack, a Washington correspondent for the National Review, was able to ask Hirono directly about whether Joe Biden should apologize for using the term “sexual preference” during this year’s political campaign.
National Review: Senator, last week at the hearing you mentioned that you thought it was ‘off pensive and outdated’ when Amy Barrett used the (term) ‘sexual preference.’ It turns out that Joe Biden said it in May. Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it in 2017. Some of your colleagues on the Judiciary Committee said it maybe in 2010, 2012. Do you stand by that criticism?
Hirono: Well, of course.
NR: Do you think Joe Biden should apologize for saying that in May?
Hirono: Well, look, it’s a lesson learned for all of us. But when you’re going on the Supreme Court and you’ve been a judge, as one of my judge friends said, you should know what these words mean.
NR: Should Joe Biden apologize, too, like Amy Coney Barrett did?
Hirono: Joe Biden is not up for the Supreme Court.
NR: He’s up for the presidency. So, he shouldn’t apologize?
Hirono: People will decide.
NR: You don’t want to call on him to apologize?
Hirono: Oh, stop it. The world is in flames.
In his piece on the above exchange with Senator Hirono, McCormack also pointed out to major media outlets and public figures who have used the term “sexual preference” with no issue:
“The Huffington Post and The Atlantic have printed “sexual preference” instead of “sexual orientation” in the last six years. A gay-rights advocate used the term in a September 25, 2020, interview with the gay-rights magazine The Advocate. No one condemned or criticized any of the media outlets or Democratic politicians who used the term in the past decade.”