Miss California sparks outrage over gay marriage remarks

Hosts Billy Bush and Nadine Velazquez listen as Miss California Carrie Prejean answers a question from judge Perez Hilton about legalizing same-sex marriage during the Miss USA Pageant. "We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage," Prejean said. "And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."

Mixing a beauty pageant with politics is a recipe for disaster. You could make a strong case for it, anyway.

The two merged last night at the site of the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas. The result was similar to the fallout after the Miss Teen USA pageant in 2007 when Miss South Carolina gave the greatest non-answer answer perhaps in American history. Both times the non-winner of a pageant got all the attention the next day.


But unlike the pageant two years ago, the contestant in the crossfire didn't give a nonsensical (and wildly entertaining) answer. The contestant last night, California's Carrie Prejean, was too articulate in the minds of many and led to some flaring tempers (similar to Janeane Garofalo's flare-up on Keith Olbermann's show the other night).

The question posed to the contestant couldn't be any more incendiary: gay marriage.

Asked judge Perez Hilton to Prejean, "Vermont recently became the 4th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit. Why or why not?"

Observers quickly learned that in Hilton's mind there was only one correct answer. And Prejean picked the wrong one.

“Well I think its great that Americans are able to choose one or the other," she said. "We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman. Thank you very much.”

Prejean was greeted with a mixed reaction from the audience. Boos followed by applause. And the reactions didn't stop at the pageant. It went into overtime.

Worst answer

Perez then blasted her on his video blog calling it the "worst answer in pageant history." He also made comments that he has since apologized for. Now he's asked her out for coffee to "talk."

The directors of the Miss California pageant condemned her answer on Monday morning.

"As co-executive director of Miss CA USA and one of the leaders of the Miss CA family, I am personally saddened and hurt that Miss CA USA 2009 believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman," wrote Keith Lewis on Hilton's blog. "Although I believe all religions should be able to ordain what unions they see fit, I do not believe our government should be able to discriminate against anyone. Religious beliefs have no place in politics in the Miss CA family."

Sticking by it

Does she regret the answer? Not at all.

"I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything," she told AccessHollywood.

Further, she informed the entertainment site that her sister is a gay rights activist in the Air Force. By the way, her sister was more sympathetic than Hilton.

“She was just in my hotel room and she said, ‘Sis, I’m not offended by anything that you said. We have two different opinions and I love you because of it. I love you because you stood up for what was right, and it’s not a matter of being gay or not gay, it’s a matter of you competing for Miss USA and getting a question and answering it to the best of your ability.”

On one area both Hilton and Prejean agree: her answer killed her chances of winning the competition.

"She lost it because of that question. She was definitely the front-runner before that," Hilton told ABCNews.com

"It did cost me my crown,” she concurred. "I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I said what I feel. I stated an opinion that was true to myself and that’s all I can do."

Tough to beat

Agree or disagree, her comments were clear, and her syntax was correct. By way of comparison, when asked about a poll that showed 20 percent of American students couldn't locate the United States on a map, this is what Miss South Carolina said two years ago in the Miss Teen USA pageant:

"I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the US should help the US, uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our..."


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