Amy Coney Barrett looks on during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. (Getty)
Amy Coney Barrett might claim to have never discriminated on the basis of “sexual preference,” to use her own words, but her faith group certainly has.
The anti-LGBT+ past of Donald Trump’s controversial Supreme Court nominee is under scrutiny as the Republican-controlled Senate rushes her confirmation process, and several uncomfortable truths are now coming to light.
Among them is the fact that Barrett’s own Christian faith group, the Indiana-based People of Praise, insists on expelling any of its members who have gay sex.
In 2018 the group’s leader Craig Lent told the South Bend Tribune that anyone who engages in “ongoing, deliberate, unrepentant wrongdoing”, which includes consensual intercourse between someone of the same sex, faces immediate ex-communication.
The group also believes that sex should be reserved for married couples alone, and that only men and women should marry. “Homosexual attraction is not sinful, but acting on it is,” Lent confirmed.
These rules were reportedly tested when a lesbian member of People of Praise came out to the group after falling for a woman. An unnamed female member reportedly approached her and said other women in the organisation “were very uncomfortable that you were talking about that”.
“Either you never mention this again, or you leave,” the anonymous member told her.
The two-year-old comments came to light in a Guardian report on Wednesday (October 14), the third day of Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing.
Barrett has never openly discussed her affiliation with People of Praise, but media reports have pointed out she appears to be a longstanding member based on several factors.
These include her work as a trustee at a People of Praise-affiliated school, which required her to be a member; the fact that she lived with one of the group’s co-founders when she was a law student; the publication of her picture and other family announcements in the group’s magazine; and her father’s role as a leader in the group.
The Washington Post also reported that Barrett was listed as a handmaid, or female leader, in a 2010 directory.
But it was hard to misinterpret the homophobic dogwhistle she used on the second day, twice describing sexual orientation as a “preference”. She later tried to play it off with a limp apology that left few people convinced.