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What Miss California Should Have Said

Since she didn't, I will.

by Everett Wilson
May 13, 2009

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What Miss California Should Have Said

When Miss California was put on the spot at the Miss USA pageant by a question concerning her position on gay marriage, she responded with a grace and clarity that the questioner did not deserve. Then her own sponsors, the co-directors of Miss California USA, came out in public disagreement not only with her but with the state of California. Here is the report from Fox News: "As co-director of the Miss California USA, I am personally saddened and hurt that Miss California believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman," said Lewis in a statement. "I believe all religions should be able to ordain what unions they see fit. I do not believe our government should be able to discriminate against anyone and religious beliefs have no politics in the Miss California family." ... "Co-director Shanna Moakler said that she fully supported Lewis' statement."
The issue for me as stated in this case is not the pros and cons of gay marriage but the shabbiness of the question in its context. The question and the questioner were both out of line. Here is what I hope I would have said, had I been Miss California.
"I am sure you know, sir, that my state of California has dealt with this question, and through this pageant I have been made an informal representative of the state of California. I think both of us know that this venue is show business; the comedy in your question is that you are the one playing to the audience, not I. I must put on the record that it was you who brought up the subject.
"Insofar as I have a personal opinion, it remains my own. I am not ashamed of what I think—many people know what I think—but I will not be bullied into stating it by a specious question couched in "fighting words." The people of California need neither my rejection nor affirmation to state their official position.
"If you did not realize that any response I make, including this one, will effectively take me out of this competition, you are a minority of one. I refuse to respond in the full knowledge that my refusal will be as much fodder for the media, and as much fun for the public, as any answer I might give.
"On the other hand, if you think that my refusal gives you credibility, there is nothing I can do about that."

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