Merriam-Webster Dictionary has edited the definition of "sexual preference" to add the word "offensive" after Amy Barrett faced harsh criticism for using the phrase.
The word "preference" in this sense could, apart from anything else, mean "sexual orientation" and until Wednesday, no one apparently had had any problems with this interpretation.
As recently as last month, Webster’s Dictionary included a definition of “preference” as “orientation” or “sexual preference.” TODAY they changed it and added the word “offensive."— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) October 14, 2020
Insane - I just checked through Wayback Machine and it’s real.
(via @ThorSvensonn & @chadfelixg) pic.twitter.com/oOq1SNtCP2
Merriam-Webster's editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski told Fox News that they regularly update definitions in the dictionary and sometimes, they consider it's time for updates "when a word or set of words is getting extra attention".
"A revision made in response to an entry's increased attention differs only in celerity—as always, all revisions reflect evidence of use", Sokolowski said.
On Tuesday, Senator Mazie Hirono blasted Barrett for saying she would not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference, saying that this term is "outdated" and "offensive" to sexual minorities.
Let me make clear - sexual preference is an offensive and outdated term.— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) October 13, 2020
To suggest sexual orientation is a choice? It's not. It's a key part of a person's identity.
The LGBTQ+ community should be concerned with #WhatsAtStake with Judge Barrett on the Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/4TWyATMX0Y
Barrett later apologised, saying that she in no way meant to offend the LGBTQ community.
Justice Barrett apologizes for using the offensive term 'sexual preference': "I certainly didn't mean and would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense in the LGBTQ community. So if I did, I greatly apologize for that."— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 13, 2020
In May 2020, however, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden used the term "sexual preference" when speaking about equality at a virtual roundtable with black representatives in Florida.
"I'm going to need you to help this time rebuild the backbone of this country, the middle class, but this time bring everybody along regardless of color, sexual preference, their backgrounds, whether they have any … Just bring everybody along", the former vice president said.