By Kathleen Gilbert

LAS VEGAS, April 21, 2009 ( – Sunday’s Miss USA 2009 pageant has become a lightning rod for the debate over Christian free speech in America, after one contestant lost the crown, according to one of the judges, because she answered in favor of true marriage when quizzed on the same-sex “marriage” debate.

Celebrity gossip Perez Hilton, one of 13 telecast judges in the competition aired live on NBC, asked Miss California’s Carrie Prejean: “Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage.  Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?”

Prejean answered: “I think it’s great Americans are able to choose one or the other.  We live in a land that 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 there, but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be – between a man and a woman.”

The answer clearly irritated Hilton, and drew both cheers and boos from the crowd.  Miss North Carolina later won the Miss USA crown, with Miss California as first runner-up.

As the blogosphere reacted to the night’s events, it was widely speculated – as both Hilton and Miss California later confirmed – that the answer cost Prejean the Miss USA title.

“She lost it because of that question. She was definitely the front-runner before that,” Hilton told yesterday.

Reacting to Prejean’s answer on his popular gossip blog, Hilton, an open homosexual, called the answer “the worst answer in pageant history.”  “She lost, not because she doesn’t believe in gay marriage, she lost because she’s a dumb b*tch.”

“If that girl would have won Miss USA, California, I would have gone up on stage, I sh*t you not, … snatched that tiara off her head, and run out the door,” said Hilton.

Hilton later apologized for the remarks, offering to take Prejean out for coffee and a “talk.” 

However, he revoked his apology on a subsequent MSNBC interview.  “The more I’ve thought about it, the more – you know what?  No, I’m going to stand by what I said just like she’s standing by what she said,” said Hilton. 

“And I called her the ‘b’ word, and hey, I was thinking the ‘c’ word, and I didn’t say it,” he added, laughing.

Hilton said Miss California’s answer “was divisive and alienated millions of gays and lesbians.”  Because “Miss USA should represent all Americans,” said Hilton, Prejean should have given a more ambiguous answer in favor of state sovereignty in the marriage debate.

Keith Lewis, the Executive Director of Miss California USA/Teen USA, issued a statement that he was “personally saddened and hurt that Miss CA USA 2009 believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman.”  

On Monday’s Billy Bush Show, Prejean also said the answer “did cost me my crown,” but also said she “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,” said Prejean. 

“It is a very touchy subject and he [Perez] is a homosexual, and I see where he was coming from, and I see the audience would’ve wanted me to be more politically correct. But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything.”

“I feel like I won. I feel like I’m the winner. I really do,” said Prejean, who noted that she has been deluged with support since the telecast. 

“That made me the real winner of the night.”


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