Rao questioned the relevance of the question, given her commitment to following the clear precedent of the law. Booker replied that the personal opinion of the nominee was important and that to believe gay relationships were immoral would be similar to believing "African-American relationships are immoral."
After affirming that she did not think that gay relationships are immoral, Booker pressed Rao, asking if she believed they are "a sin." Rao replied that her "personal views on any of these subjects are things (she) would put to one side" and that she would follow precedent when making rulings.
"So you're not willing to say here if you believe it is sinful for two men to be married?" Booker asked.
Rao again stated that she intended to follow all Supreme Court precedent when it came to making decisions on the Court of Appeals, and that she would put any of her personal views "to one side." She declined to comment on whether she believes gay marriage to be sinful.
Rao has not publicly commented on her religious beliefs. She is the daughter of parents who immigrated to the United States from India. President Trump announced her nomination at the White House's celebration to mark Diwali, a major Hindu religious festival.
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Booker also asked Rao if she had ever employed an "LGBTQ law clerk."
The nominee reminded the senator that she had never previously served as a judge, and so had never employed law clerks. She did said she did not question her staff about their sexual orientation.
"I take people as they come," Rao said. "Irrespective of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, I treat people as individuals."