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Page last updated at 08:13 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 09:13 UK
Pageant girl sparks gay marriage row

By Sima Kotecha
US Reporter

Miss California Carrie Prejean has appeared in a TV ad promoting heterosexual marriage after speaking out against gay marriage during a beauty pageant.

Carrie Prejean
Many reckon Carrie Prejean lost the Miss USA contest because of her comment

She's blonde and beautiful, and plenty of blokes in the States can't help but get excited when she's on TV.

Now Carrie Prejean - better known as Miss California - is doing more than strutting her stuff on the catwalk.

After telling Perez Hilton at the Miss USA pageant that she thinks marriage should be between a man and woman, she's now starring in adverts for the National Organisation for Marriage (NOM).

Her new role is to promote 'traditional marriages' in the US and not homosexual ones.

I think if two people regardless of sex, colour, creed or religion find each other, it should be celebrated
Regina Cialone

Showbiz guru Hilton - one of the judges at the beauty contest - has been criticising the 22-year-old all week for what she said when he asked her about legalising same sex marriage across the country.

Carrie's response to Hilton's question about her opinion on same-sex marriage was: "In my family I believe that marriage should be between a man and woman, no offence to anybody out there but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be, between a man and a woman."

'Stand for truth'

It's gone down well with evangelical Christians who number in their millions in the US.

"Carrie only said what the majority of Americans believe," said Maggie Gallagher, President of NOM. "Marriage means a man and a woman.

"Her example resonates, especially to many young Americans, because she chose to stand for truth rather than surrender her core values."

Not everyone agrees though.

Amanda Crenshaw lives in New York. She's 22 and a lesbian.

"When you're applying to be a role model to millions of people," she said, "you need to keep your opinions to yourself."

Perez Hilton
Celebrity gossip star Perez Hilton asked Prejean the question

Carrie Prejean was attacked in the UK by Tory Shadow Home Secretary, Alan Duncan, on the BBC One show Have I Got News For You.

The openly gay MP came under fire when he said, "If you read that Miss California has been murdered, you will know it was me, won't you?"

A spokesman for the BBC said: "Alan Duncan's comment was not meant to be taken seriously and it did not go unchallenged. Its absurdity and unacceptability was [sic] highlighted by the other panellists."

Gay marriage debate

The new NOM TV advert is called 'Know Offence'.

At the start, it shows Carrie on stage, answering Perez Hilton's question.

It's followed by a clip of Perez laying into her - he later said sorry and offered to take her out for a drink.

NOM have done previous adverts which warn Americans that legalising same-sex marriage will have major consequences for many religious groups.

Carrie's new job comes at a crucial time for America.

Gay marriage is being spoken about all the time, with more states debating about whether to legalise it.

So far, gay men and lesbians can tie the knot in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa.

From September, you'll be able to do it in Vermont too, and it looks like New York might be next to join the list.

Regina Cialone is 30 and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

"It's a sad thing, all this controversy," she said, "because there's not enough love in the world and I think if two people regardless of sex, colour, creed or religion find each other, it should be celebrated."

Carrie Prejean didn't get the Miss USA title and her answer on gay marriage may be why.

But it seems like she's been getting more airtime on the American networks than the winner has.

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