Tom Foreman | Bio
Like an earth tremor on the San Andreas Fault, or the paparazzi behind Britney’s car, I could have told Miss California it was coming.
I had a long chat with Perez Hilton a few months ago and he made it screamingly clear that while he earns a living as a celebrity blogger, his life is about gay rights. So I was not surprised when he threw that ticking bomb of a question at her while he was serving as a judge during the Miss USA contest: “Do you think all states should approve same-sex marriages?”
The answer from Carrie Prejean, just in case you haven’t heard, was polite and in keeping with typical beauty pageant punditry. After saying she thinks it is great that people can choose their own mates, she added, “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.”
Often when people say “no offense,” what they mean is they are about to offend you, but you shouldn’t get all huffy about it. And that is precisely how many same-sex marriage proponents took her comment. They have been slamming the First Runner Up as intolerant on the blogs, YouTube, TV, and every other available platform.
And her supporters have been slamming right back by posting their own messages saying either that she is right to defend traditional marriage, or the critics are wrong to attack her free speech. One Alabama legislator even introduced a measure to commend her actions. Of course, he may just be snippy. The last time a Miss Alabama won the Miss USA crown was more than forty years ago, and this year she didn’t even make the top 15.
The real scandal in the contest, I should mention, is the extraordinary dominance of Texas: 8 crowns since 1985. Seems fishy. I’m just saying.
I digress. It’s easy to portray either side as the victim. But in the modern world of public debate, there are only winners coming out of this mess. Sure, Prejean did not win the crown, but she’s been on TV a heck of a lot more than the winner (who was that, by the way?) and even without a tiara, she’s being treated like royalty by people who share her views.
Hilton and his supporters are also getting what they want and that is another chance to publicize their struggle to have same-sex marriage approved coast to coast.
The fight is only going to get uglier, but the combatants on each side would have it no other way. As long as they are in the headline, they are sitting pretty.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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