The Miss California controversy

May 12, 2009 1:44:24 PM PDT
So who wudda thunk that Miss California would become the focal point in the same-sex marriage debate?

No one, that's who.

But there she is, with her talk about opposite marriage and her embrace of and by the religious right, suddenly the poster model for anti-same-sex marriage activists.

Her rather inarticulate answer to Miss USA judge Perez Hilton's question about her position on same-sex marriage has given Carrie Prejean, the contest, and the event's promoter, Donald Trump, more publicity than any of them could have ever dreamed of getting. Especially Mr. Trump, who keeps coming back from financial downturns and who understands better than most how to get publicity. Between his staggeringly successful Apprentice show this past weekend, and the controversy over his Miss USA Pageant, Trump has managed to appear on national television as frequently as the President.

Oh, and by the way, did you notice how he mentioned Mr. Obama today, when he compared Ms. Prejean's answer about same-sex marriage to the President's rather crispy waffling on the issue? Trump said that Prejean "gave a very, very honest answer when asked a very tough question..... it's the same answer that the President of the United States gave."

The man who advised Pres. Clinton on gay and lesbian issues, Richard Socarides, today agreed with Trump's assessment. "You know, it's the same answer," said Socarides. "But one of them should know better."

And what kind of role model is Miss California to young women? It's a question that many parents of, say, nearly 17-year-old daughters are asking. (I'm one of them, for the record.)

Is it her fake hair, or her fake body parts, or her inarticulate speech, or her lack of inclusion, or the topless pictures she posed for ("my shirt just blew open"), or even the fact that she's a "Miss" and not a "Ms?"

Should be an interesting dinner-table discussion tonight.

The debate over same-sex marriage will continue -- although the tide is clearly heading in the direction of allowing it. The bottom line: the only "winner" is Donald Trump, who now has a beauty pageant people have heard of. The man who goes into bankruptcy as often as many people change jobs is, no question, a master of generating publicity. And his announcement today that Miss California can retain her crown was another stroke of P.R. by The Donald.

She may have won the pageant had she come up with the more politically correct answer - something like, "Everyone has the right to love and be loved, and if someone finds love, it shouldn't matter whether it's with the same sex or the opposite sex." (Oh - THAT'S what she meant by "opposite" marriage!) And let Mr. Perez Hilton not escape unscathed here. The gossip maven certainly had a right to ask the question as a judge - and it was a legit question. But his campaign on You Tube afterwards trashing Miss California was hardly higher-road stuff, and indeed helped fuel the seamier aspects of this story.

We'll have the latest on the controversy, and developments as the same-sex marriage bill makes its way through the New York State legislature, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we covered the NTSB hearing today into the crash of Continental flight 3407. It is, as we previewed last night, a disturbing look at what appears to be the pilots' fears of flying in ice (in Buffalo in February - who could imagine that would happen?) and their apparent failures in training procedures. We'll have reaction from families of the 50 people who were killed.

And we're looking tonight at the conundrum of people trying to buy homes in this recessionary market. If they already have a home, moving into a new one is problematic: The new house may be a good deal, but usually their equity is tied up in their existing house. And selling that means selling lower-than-expected, or even at a loss.

So what to do for these people who feel "trapped" in their current homes? Sandra Bookman tonight -- with the problem facing so many folks - in our area and around the country.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Scott Clark with the night's sports, and Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast. You can also see Lee's "Blog or Bust" by CLICKING HERE.

I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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