Thursday, April 23, 2009
By Joshua Rhett Miller
The Miss USA contestants from the four states that allow same-sex marriage say Miss California should have been more politically correct and socially aware when she was asked for her thoughts on the issue during the nationally televised pageant on Sunday.
Miss Massachusetts Alison Cronin told FOXNews.com she was “shocked” when Carrie Prejean, 21, told Miss USA judge and celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton that she believes marriage should be “between a man and a woman.”
Hilton’s question — “Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?” — was considered appropriate for the telecast. Prejean, a student at San Diego Christian College, replied that she personally opposes gay marriage — a response that some, including Hilton, said cost her the Miss USA title.
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“It’s really hard to think that people still think that way,” Cronin said. “But at the same time, there’s a lot of girls in pageants who wear their religion on their sleeve. If that’s what she thinks, I give her credit for expressing that, but that’s not how I feel.”
Cronin, 22, said she supports gay marriage.
“I’m for it,” she said. “If two people are in a loving relationship, regardless of their sexual orientation, I think they should have equal rights.”
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Miss Connecticut Monica Mary Pietzrak, called Prejean a “wonderful girl” but said she should have been more conscious of the national audience.
“In general, when you’re answering a question like that, you have to be politically correct about it,” Pietzrak told FOXNews.com. “I would’ve answered differently to help accommodate all beliefs. It’s a decision between two individuals, and not just a man and a woman.”
Pietzrak said she doesn’t share Prejean’s view that marriage should be limited to opposite-sex couples. “I don’t personally agree with that, but people have a choice to do whatever they want.”
Miss Iowa Chelsea Lynn Gauger, 20, said her state, whose Supreme Court just this month declared a legislative ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, is ahead of the country.
“Being from Iowa, I’m proud to say that our state has interpreted the Constitution to say that gays have the right to marry,” Gauger said. “Whether you agree with [Prejean] or not, to be on national television and say exactly how you feel, it does take strength and faith.”
“People have blown it out of proportion,” Gauger added. “I don’t think people are thinking what it would be like to be up there like she was. It’s sad that people can’t just keep their feelings to themselves.”
Miss Vermont Brooke Werner, who said she was shocked by Prejean’s statement, acknowledged the high-pressure situation that many, including Miss California herself, thought cost her the crown.
“Everyone has a right to their own actions,” Werner said. “But I totally disagree with Carrie. I have a very different perspective on gay marriage and I would have never said what she said.”
Cronin said if Prejean had answered differently, she might be taking promotional tours this week instead of defending her comments.
“Had she gone the other way with the question, she might have won,” Miss Massachusetts said. “I’m surprised that she would say it, knowing the demographic she was speaking to.”
But Prejean’s decision not to compromise her beliefs was admirable, Cronin said.
“She would’ve made herself look more like an idiot if she changed her mind,” she said. “You got to be able to back up your opinion and not become wishy-washy. Good for her for standing by it.”
Prejean has called her experience a “blessing in disguise” and noted that the majority of Californians share her views, citing the passage of Proposition 8 in November that reversed a state Supreme Court ruling and made gay marriage illegal again in the Golden State.
“I am so blessed that I was able to speak my mind, my thoughts, my convictions,” Prejean told FOX News’ Neil Cavuto Tuesday. “What I said is the way I feel. It’s my belief and I’m entitled to my own opinion, just as [Hilton] is.”
Prejean said she feels “sorry” for Hilton and vowed to pray for him.
She also said that she’d “love to know” how the winner, 22-year-old Miss North Carolina Kristen Dalton, would have answered the question.
On Thursday, Prejean found out. During an interview with FOXNews.com, Dalton said: “In short, I would say everyone should be able to enter into a civil union, where they’re legally recognized as a couple and earn the same rights as a married couple.”
Asked if she supports gay marriage, Miss USA replied, “I’m not going to say whether or not I think it should be defined as marriage because that’s up to our politicans and our elected officials.”