By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
Search Twitter for Carrie Prejean, Miss California and first runner-up for Miss USA 2009, and you'll find more tweets applauding her gay marriage answer than you will pooh-poohing it. It's no surprise that much of the praise comes from self-identified Christians.
But I was surprised to find a good number of tweets giving Prejean props while knocking Rick Warren, who played down his support for California's gay marriage ban in a recent interview with Larry King. "What about Rick Warren?" reads one. "Miss CA can say what she believes in front of millions but Warren couldn't on Larry King."
Another recent tweet: "I say good job Miss CA she's standing up for her convictions unlike a wishy washy Rick Warren. "
The Family Research Council's Tony Perkins has issued a press release praising Prejean: "Put simply, Miss Prejean is right: Marriage can only occur between one man and one woman."
At a moment when the GOP has abandoned its outspoken support for a constitutional gay marriage ban and is keeping a low profile on other political hot buttons—and when even evangelical leaders like Warren are playing down their opposition to gay unions—conservative Christians are embracing Prejean as someone who stands up for what she believes at considerable personal cost.
Check out Prejean's exchange yesterday with Matt Lauer (video above, transcript below), where she refuses to back off an inch from her opposition to gay marriage. When's the last time you saw a high-profile public figure, other than a Christian-right leader, do that on a similarly divisive issue?
Ms. PREJEAN: I knew at that moment after I had answered the question, I knew that I was not going to win because of my answer.
LAUER: Because you had spoken from your heart.
Ms. PREJEAN: Because I had spoken from my heart, from my beliefs and for my God.
LAUER: Well, OK, so let me ask you this. So if I were to—and I won't ask you. But if I were to ask you the very same question right now and say you get a do-over on this, how badly do you want to win that title? Would you have answered it differently?
Ms. PREJEAN: No, I wouldn't have answered it differently. I think that the way that I answered it, you know, might have been offensive to people, and I said in no offense to anybody, I did not want to offend anybody. But I think with that question specifically, it's not about being politically correct. For me it was being biblically correct.
LAUER: He says he hopes this doesn't usher in an era where contestants are subjectively judged on religious or moral or political beliefs.
Ms. PREJEAN: And I think it's unfortunate that a lot of pageant girls, you know, they have the pressure. Like Claudia Jordan said—she was one of the judges, she was great. She said that, you know, I should have been more in the middle, I shouldn't have given a specific answer. But that goes against what I stand for. And when I'm asked a specific question, I'm going to give a specific answer. I'm not going to stand in the middle. I'm going to take one side or the other.
LAUER: Carrie, you came so close.
Ms. PREJEAN: And I am—I am so proud of myself and I have so many people that are so proud of me. And it wasn't what God wanted for my life that night.
Corrected on 04/23/09: An earlier version of this article misstated the pageant that Carrie Prejean competed in last weekend. It was the Miss USA pageant.