Like most stories that involve Perez Hilton, I’ve been doing my best to ignore this whole Carrie “Miss California” Prejean debacle, but it seems like the story just won’t die.
In case you somehow missed it, Prejean was made famous during last month’s Miss USA pageant when “celebrity” judge Perez Hilton asked her if she supported gay marriage and she responded with: “We live in a land where you can choose same sex marriage or opposite marriage … 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 that it should be.”
Since then, the story gained a second life when it was revealed that the Miss USA pageant paid for her boob job and that Prejean posed for provocative photos when she was 17. Now, there is talk that the photos she posed for as a teenager could cost Prejean her crown (which seems hypocritical since she was only showing off the breasts that the beauty pageant later paid to upgrade). So far, only one photo has been released online – a fairly tame shot of Prejean in a pair of panties with her back to the camera and her arm covering her chest – but reports are that more photos may eventually surface. Pageant officials have been having closed-door meetings to decide whether or not she will forfeit the crown.
While the two controversies surrounding Prejean’s breasts have added an interesting wrinkle to this story (as breasts tend to do), I honestly believe that this whole thing never should have been a big deal in the first place. All Prejean did was state her opinion – and, although she didn’t state it very eloquently, she is entitled to believe in the sanctity of “opposite” marriage if she so chooses. Whether you agree with her or not, she has a right to speak out for what she believes in.
And this is coming from someone who thinks she is completely wrong. I truly believe that gay marriage should be legalized (and I think it will be, slowly but surely). I’m a cynic by nature, but I believe that if two people love each other and want to get married, they should be allowed to. Besides, it has no bearing on my life whatsoever, so why should I care? People who argue against same sex marriage typically do so because of religious implications – but in my mind, it’s not a religious matter, it’s a legal one. Denying two gay people who love each other the right to marry and file joint taxes and to get health insurance together and to visit each other in the hospital seems wrong. It’s discrimination – which is something we supposedly frown upon in this country.
But while I vehemently disagree with Prejean’s beliefs, I think she has a right to voice them. It’s not like she went all “Mel Gibson on the Jews” or anything. Her comments aren’t even remotely controversial and, considering how last year’s Proposition 8 vote turned out, her beliefs are apparently in line with a majority of Californians. She was asked a question, which she answered honestly. Too often, beauty pageant contestants try to give the safest and blandest answers imaginable to make sure not to offend anyone (or they just ramble on about “U.S. Americans” and maps until their time runs out), but she didn’t do that. She had the balls to look Perez Hilton in the eyes and tell him she didn’t believe in gay marriage. And I respect that.
I also respect her response to the tawdry photo of her being leaked online, which I thought was articulate and savvy (and wisely, never mentioned opposite marriage).
“I am not perfect, and I will never claim to be,” Prejean said. “But these attacks on me and others who speak in defense of traditional marriage are intolerant and offensive. While we may not agree on every issue, we should show respect for others’ opinions and not try to silence them through vicious and mean-spirited attacks.”
A Christian who believes gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry calling her detractors intolerant is certainly a bit pot-kettle-ish, but she has a point. Vilifying her for her beliefs is discrimination and it’s counterproductive. It will discourage others who oppose gay marriage from speaking their minds for fear of being attacked and it will keep us all from moving forward.
Like I said, I do think eventually gay marriage will be legal in all 50 states. I can already feel the momentum beginning to shift and for the first time the gay marriage movement has some real traction. But for us to truly move forward as a nation, people on both sides are going to need to have honest, open discussions about the issue instead of just bashing the people who don’t share their viewpoint. (And it probably wouldn’t hurt to find someone better than Perez Hilton to be the face of same sex marriage when opposing Prejean. Crudely drawn penises and fame whoring never really solved anything.)
Some day, I believe that beauty pageant contestants with fake breasts and annoying gay bloggers will be able to coexist in peace and harmony. And gay people will be allowed to marry each other so that they can finally be as miserable as the rest of us.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.