Entertainment behind the scenes
Miss California keeps her crown — and her opinions
While Prejean, 21, hit the headlines last month for her opposition to gay marriage, it was the emergence of topless photos of the beauty queen that threw her reign into doubt.
At a packed news conference in New York City on Tuesday, Miss USA pageant owner Donald Trump said he had viewed the photos, some of which he described as beautiful and others as risque, and deemed them acceptable.
Prejean said some of the photos — showing her topless but covering her breasts — were taken by a friend for applications for modeling agencies and not for publication. Others that showed her baring her breasts were taken on a windy cliff when she was not aware that she was being photographed, she said.
It was Prejean’s views on gay marriage, and the strident reaction to them, that threw her into the national spotlight in the midst of heated debates over same-sex weddings, which have recently been legalized in five U.S. states but banned in a California referendum in November.
Prejean expressed her opposition to gay marriage last month while answering a question from gay celebrity blogger and judge Perez Hilton at the Miss USA pageant where she came second. She said her answer cost her the Miss USA crown.
“I exercised my freedom of speech and I was punished for doing so. This should not happen in America. It undermines the constitutional rights for which my grandfather fought (in World War Two),” an emotional Prejean told reporters.
“I believe no one should be silenced if they are speaking from their heart. I am a model. I am a Christian,” she said, adding that she forgave everyone who had attacked her for her anti-gay marriage opinions.
Prejean also said she had received an enormous amount of support for her views.
“For everyone out there listening, do not be silenced,” Prejean said. “Take this story of mine and apply it to your own life. I hope I inspired others to maintain compassion, civility respect and tolerance while staying true to your convictions.”
Should Miss California have kept her crown? What do you think about her views on gay marriage?