During his confirmation hearing for US attorney general on Tuesday, Senator Jeff Sessions pledged to protect the LGBT community, but other statements he made raised questions.

Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, said that he's “absolutely sure” he understands the responsibilities of the job President-elect Donald Trump has nominated him to.

“I am not naïve,” Sessions said. “I know the threat that our rising crime and addiction rates pose to the health and safety of our country. I know the threat of terrorism. I deeply understand the history of civil rights and the horrendous impact that relentless and systemic discrimination and the denial of voting rights has had on our African-American brothers and sisters. I have witnessed it. I understand the demands for justice and fairness made by the LGBT community. I will ensure that the statutes protecting their civil rights and their safety are fully enforced. I understand the lifelong scars born by women who are victims of assault and abuse.”

Several senators quizzed Sessions about his record on LGBT rights, which includes opposition to marriage equality, repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” – the military's previous ban on gay troops serving openly – and hate crimes protections.

When Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, asked Sessions about the Supreme Court's landmark finding that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry and his opposition to such unions, Sessions replied that he would “follow that decision.”

“The Supreme Court has ruled on that,” he said. “The dissents dissented vigorously. It was 5-4, and five justices on the Supreme Court, the majority of the court, has established the definition of marriage for the entire United States of America, and I will follow the decision.”

Sessions also raised eyebrows when he said that recognizing religious freedom would be “a very high priority” for him. Many so-called religious freedom measures being pushed by Republicans are actually anti-LGBT initiatives.