Miss California will keep title, Trump decides [Updated]
Miss California Carrie Prejean, whose comments about gay marriage set off a firestorm, will keep her crown, Donald Trump announced today.
The controversy began nearly a month ago, when Prejean was asked about her views on same-sex marriage during the nationally televised Miss USA pageant. Although she said she believed people were entitled to do as they liked, she said marriage should only be recognized as an institution between a man and a woman.
Trump said he had no problem with Prejean's comments. "She gave a very honest answer when asked a tough question," he said at a New York press conference with Prejean sitting next to him. "It was the same answer the president of the United States gave... She has to be commended."
Trump also said he reviewed semi-nude photos of Prejean that have surfaced in recent days and concluded they should not disqualify her. "We are in the 21st century," said Trump, who owns the pageant. "We have determined that the pictures taken were fine."
Trump said Prejean and California pageant officials and Prejean have met in the last few hours and "are getting along very well."
For her part, Prejean attacked some of her critics as spreading "hateful" rumors about her and said she was simply standing up for her beliefs.
[Updated at 9:15 a.m.:] Prejean singled out Perez Hilton, the Hollywood blogger and pageant judge who asked her the gay marriage question. She accused Hilton, a gay rights activist, of having a "hidden personal agenda" and that he knew the question would be "politically charged."
She also said she's received much support from strangers for her outspoken views and said the situation shows the importance of speaking out.
“I stated my honest belief,” she said.
Pageant officials had said that when Prejean became the darling of the anti-same-sex-marriage movement, she began shirking her duties as Miss California. They say she missed appearances, including the filming of a public service announcement the pageant put together featuring former and current Miss USA, Miss California and Miss California Teen winners speaking about the beauty and diversity of the people of California. Organizers said she was generally unreachable by pageant officials -- technically a breach of her contract, they said.
Officials with the National Organization for Marriage say Prejean is not a paid spokeswoman. She did attend the Washington, D.C., news conference at which the group unveiled the ad featuring her Miss USA pageant clip. And she lent her voice to a recorded call the organization used to thank supporters and solicit contributions.
"Carrie has always been a spokesperson for herself. She believes what we believe," said Brian Brown, the group's executive director. "We're proud of her. . . . She's standing up for marriage and against the bullying we heard at this press conference today."
-- Carla Hall and Shelby Grad
Miss California USA pageant is rocked on its high heels
Photo: Donald Trump places a ribbon on Miss California, Carrie Prejean, during a press conference, where Trump announced that Prejean will keep her title despite controversy over semi-nude photos. Credit: Timothy A. Cleary / AFP / Getty Images