Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told The Hill Wednesday he wouldn't consider homosexuality to be "an automatic disqualification."
Gay rights leaders say they are hopeful President Barack Obama will select one of the openly gay people on the short list when he makes his nomination to replace the retiring Souter.
The Hill said some conservative leaders have raised warning flags that nomination of a gay or lesbian for the post would be too polarizing. But GOP senators appeared less concerned with the nominee's sexual orientation than with his or her legal knowledge and experience.
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said he was only opposed to "activist judges" and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said he didn't want to see the replacement of Souter turned into an exercise in "ethnic or social profiling."
"He should just focus on a proven judge who understands the Constitution and has demonstrated a willingness to support the rule of law," DeMint said to The Hill.
And other Republicans, including Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., admitted to The Hill they hadn't given the gay angle much thought.