Where was Mazie Hirono born? A look at Honolulu-raised Senator's early life and how she became a US citizen

Democratic Senators such as Mazie Hirono warned Amy Coney Barrett that the term sexual preference is 'offensive and outdated' during the ongoing hearing

                            Where was Mazie Hirono born? A look at Honolulu-raised Senator's early life and how she became a US citizen
Mazie Hirono (Getty Images)

The Senate hearings to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg was on its day two on October 13 when things got a bit heated up.

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cue from this, Democratic Senators such as Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono warned Barrett that the term is "offensive and outdated".

Mazie 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, Mazie 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 She continued, "Let me make clear, 'sexual preference' is an offensive and outdated term.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."

Barrett later responded to Mazie 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." Mazie has been in the news for this questioning session and was widely discussed on social media.

A look at her personal life

Mazie Hirono was born in November 1947, in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Her mother Sato Laura Chie married a veterinarian, Hirono Matabe, and moved with her husband to southern Fukushima. The couple had three children, Roy, Mazie and Wayne. Mazie's father was a gambler and alcoholic who staked his wife's possessions for gambling money.

As mentioned in starbulletein.com, Laura later remembered, "My brother sent money to buy a school uniform for my son. My husband took the money, went to town and never came back home. It was getting closer to the start of school, so I went to look for him. I found out he had ordered an overcoat for himself with the money. He didn't need an overcoat in the spring. That's when I made up my mind to leave."

Laura left the house with her children. Her parents were supportive of this decision. Since Laura had citizenship, she decided to return to the US with Mazie and Roy in 1955, and later was joined by Wayne and her parents in 1957.

Even though they had financial constraints, Laura’s determination kept them together. Mazie, as quoted in the report, said, "We both had baseball piggy banks. My older brother spent all his dimes but I saved mine. But one day I came home and the dimes were gone. My mother had to use it to buy food."

Mazie did not see her father again and he has since passed away. Her mother later became a newspaper proofreader in 1961 and retired from the Hawaii Newspaper Agency in 1986. Roy became a Hawaiian Electric supervisor. Her younger brother Wayne drowned in 1978 at age 26. She was raised in Honolulu. Mazie became a naturalized US citizen in 1959. She later attended Georgetown University Law Center.

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