Amy Barrett hearing: Who's Mazie Hirono's husband? Senator slammed for 'lecturing' judge over sexual preference

Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono cornered Barrett over questions on 'sexual preferences' and the internet wasted no time in bashing the senator


                            Amy Barrett hearing: Who's Mazie Hirono's husband? Senator slammed for 'lecturing' judge over sexual preference
Mazie Hirono, Leighton Kim Oshima and Amy Coney Barrett (Getty Images)

The Senate hearings to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg got heated on October 13 as Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono cornered Barrett over questions on "sexual preferences". In the hearing, Barrett clarified her use of the phrase “sexual preference", apologizing to those who interpreted her choice of the word as suggesting disdain towards the LGBTQ+ rights.

Earlier, in her confirmation hearing, Barrett told senators that she has not “discriminated on the basis of sexual preference". This led to much criticism because the phrase "sexual preference" is not used by LGBTQ+ advocates due to its suggestion that sexual orientation or gender identity is a choice. Taking cue from this, Democratic Senators such as Hirono warned Barrett that the term is “offensive and outdated".
 
Hirono said that it is concerning for the LGBTQ+ community that the rights granted in the Obergefell case could be overturned if Barrett is confirmed as SCOTUS. Bashing Barrett, Hirono said, "Not once but twice you used the term 'sexual preferences' to describe those in the LGBTQ community." She continued, "Let me make clear, 'sexual preference' is an offensive and outdated term. It is used by anti-LGTBQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice."

Hirono went on to say that 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," Hirono said. "Which, by the way, Scalia did not agree with."

The senator ended her remarks without allowing Barrett to speak. She later responded to Hirono and said, "I certainly didn't mean and would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense in the LGBTQ community. If I did, I greatly apologize for that. I simply meant to be referring to Obergefell's holding with regard to same-sex marriage."

Barrett also mentioned that she has declined to answer questions about her view on the Obergefell case for the same reason she has declined to comment on other court rulings. "I was certainly not indicating disagreement with it," Barrett said. "The point of now answering was to simply say it was inappropriate for me to say a response." In 2015's Obergefell case, the Supreme Court decided in favor of marriage equality. The Court maintained that the Fourteenth Amendment firstly requires states to license marriages between people of the same sex and secondly, it requires states to recognize lawful out-of-state and same-sex marriages.
 
The court ruled using the phrase sexual orientation and not sexual preference and said, "Decisions about marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation."
 
After Hirono’s comments dropped people started to slam her for lecturing Barrett, calling her an embarrassment. However, others thought Hirono made a point. A user wrote, "Who does Hirono think she is to lecture Judge Barrett about sexual preference at her own hearing." Another user wrote on her questions, "Doesn’t Mazie Hirono have her own questions? She is the most unprepared Senator having to read the script she is given from who knows who. She is so disrespectful."



 



 

A user wrote, "Hirono is an embarrassment to the nation. Who votes for these idiots." Another wrote, "Someone should investigate Sen Hirono. It's always the one screaming the loudest that has something to hide and she really seems obsessed with investigating sex." A user slammed Hirono, "My dad’s sexual preference was women for a majority of his life. Doesn’t mean he wasn’t gay, but he had a conscious or subconscious preference, and that changed once he came to terms with who he was. Shame on Senator Mazie Hirono for claiming my father’s experience is offensive.”



 



 



 

Author Robby Soave wrote, “As Mazie Hirono and Cory Booker made clear, it is NOT OKAY to say ‘sexual preference’ instead of ‘orientation’. This is ‘archaic and offensive.’ I am thus demanding a swift and immediate apology... from Joe Biden, who used this term during a speech in May." Another said, "Senator Hirono is going to bat right now for the #LGBTQ community, cites the 11 million people in the US who identify with the community. She discusses the very real fear that our marriages will be undone by a conservative SCOTUS. #SCOTUShearings.” 



 



 

Hirono has served as a junior Democratic US Senator from Hawaii since 2013. Before that, she was a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives for 10 years. Your Tango reported Hirono has been a supporter of immigrants, health care rights, veterans, women, survivors of sexual assault, and has openly challenged President Donald Trump on many occasions.

Here's what we know about her personal life. 

Who is Hirono's husband Leighton Kim Oshima?

Hirono is married to Leighton Kim Oshima, who has worked as both a litigator in the state attorney general’s office as well as a private practitioner. Oshima presently works in private practice in Honolulu, specializing in insurance defense, as per Your Tango. 

The couple first met at a Young Democrats meeting back in 1973 at Waikiki library. Describing their meeting, Oshima reportedly said, "We were duly unimpressed with each other: Mazie in her rubber slippers and pedal pushers with all these tablets and notepads, a huge stack of notebooks. And I’m just like, who takes notes at a Young Democrats meeting?”
At that time, Hirono was president of the group. "She looked at me and said, ‘So I hear you’re an attorney’ in a way that made me feel embarrassed to be an attorney,” Oshima said about their interaction. 

US Sen Mazie Hirono (D-HI) participates in a reenacted swearing-in with her husband Leighton Kim Oshima and US Vice President Joe Biden in the Old Senate Chamber at the US Capitol January 3, 2013, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

Your Tango reported that the pair dated and broke up over 13 years before their marriage. But they didn’t have an amicable breakup. Hirono reportedly said, “It was one of those breakups where I burned all of his pictures.” 
 
However, they reconciled after the breakup and married in 1987. By that time, Oshima had already been married and divorced with one child. This made Hirono a stepmother to Oshima’s daughter Malia. According to Hirono, “When we got married, I told him this better be good because I don’t have time for another one.”
 
Though Hirono’s husband is not much interested in politics, he has always been at his wife’s side. When Hirono was battling cancer, he was the first person to agree that she should not retire despite her diagnosis. “She loves what she’s doing. This is her purpose in life, to serve. I have to remind myself that she’s a cancer survivor,” he said.

He also reportedly mentioned that people have a tendency to underestimate his wife. “They always have because of her style. She works hard and she works behind the scenes. She’s not out for publicity.” Today the couple lives with Hirono’s mother Laura in Hawaii.

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