My final post on the Miss California flap – and a smackdown of Roland Martin

By pams
Thursday, April 23, 2009 16:41 EDT
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I didn’t want to waste any more precious energy on this dustup, but I was curious about what Miss North Carolina’s view on marriage equality was.

Miss North Carolina, Kristen Dalton, who from the POV of Miss California, Carrie Prejean, won her crown only because Prejean drew Perez Hilton’s name out of the fishbowl, weighed in on the marriage equality issue. Fortunately, she didn’t embarrass herself with a boneheaded answer – she actually walked the line quite artfully.

“The beautiful thing about America is that we have the right to choose, we have the right to choose what partner we want to love, commit and spend the rest of our lives with. I think that all couples should be able to be recognized legally, and they should be able to enter into a union. Whether or not it should be defined as marriage, I don’t know, I’ll leave that up to the politicians.”

That was a decent punt, actually and was diplomatic in discussing Miss California’s clumsy, ignorant answer.

Dalton told Al Rocker, “Although I respect her opinion, you know, as Americans, the beauty of America is that we all have a right to our own opinion. I’m proud of [Miss California] for speaking from her heart, and she’s passionate and what she believes in, and she’s proud of herself.”

In related news, on AC360, Mike Signorile was on last night, paired up with CNN’s Roland Martin, , whose column “Commentary: Miss California, thanks for being honest” has to be read to be believed. He defended Prejean’s “answer” as a matter of free speech — and clearly “truth.” That makes no sense; no one prevented Miss California from exercising her First Amendment rights, and it doesn’t protect her statement from ridicule or guarantee her a shiny tiara.

See the exchange below the fold. Here’s the video and the transcript:


PREJEAN: The way that I answered it, you know, might have been offensive to people, and I said, and 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.


FOREMAN: And fans, like an Alabama legislator who has introduced a resolution praising Prejean, and this viewer, who sent us a CNN I- Report, are standing by her.


KATY BROWN, I-REPORTER: And, Miss California, you are a role model. You are the definition of standing up for your own beliefs and your opinions. And I thank you for that.


FOREMAN: Who knew the all-American beauty pageant could get so ugly?




FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: So does this really come down to an issue of free speech? Roland Martin blogged about this today on our Web site in support of Miss California’s honesty. We want to hear your thoughts, too. Send us a text message with your question to 94553. Keep in mind the message must start with the letters “AC,” then a space, your name, and question. If you don’t put “AC” first with a space, we are not going to get your text.

Roland Martin joins me now, along with Sirius XM host Michelangelo Signorile.

Roland, why did you write this blog? What are you in support of?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, because folks are saying, well, she shouldn’t have said this, she should have given a different answer, she should have played it safe.

My deal is, look, when you ask — if you ask a question, give the answer. And I’m sick and tired of whether its politicians or whether it’s anybody else, where we dance around these issues and give these nice, safe answers as opposed to exactly how he really feels.

Now, there are consequences when it comes to that. When you write a column, people are going to say, “Why did you say it?” You’ve got a radio show? “Why’d you say it?” But you say it, you put yourself out there and you deal with the consequences. I’m tired of the dancing.

COOPER: Michelangelo, do you think she’s being punished because of her beliefs?

MICHELANGELO SIGNORILE, SIRIUS XM HOST: No, I don’t believe it was about the answer that she gave in terms of what she actually — what she believed about marriage. I think it was because she was inarticulate, she was clumsy. She talked about how we have a choice in this country. We don’t. California took away the choice.

So she was wrong, and then she was also this opposite marriage. What did that mean? I think she was inarticulate.

COOPER: Roland, she said we live in a land where you with choose same-sex marriage, which is — actually, it’s not true. Do you buy that, that her answer was technically wrong and therefore, that’s the problem?

MARTIN: Again, for me, I don’t even waste my time on, well, she got second place and she would have won if she answered right. None of us know that. We don’t know how the judges were actually…

COOPER: She certainly believes it.

MARTIN: Right. She believes that. But really how this thing has really just generated so much attention is really because of the answer, her stance, and that is she believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s the real issue, not that she was the runner-up.

COOPER: Do you think most people are criticizing her. You say they’re hypocrites? Why?

MARTIN: I think they’re hypocrites because it’s interesting. People are saying, “How dare she sit here and say that? She — she would have been Miss USA representing America.”

Well, guess what? The president of the United States has the exact same position that she does. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden. I sat through all those debates and watched those Democratic candidates. All of them say I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. But people are saying, “Oh, she’s wrong,” but they say, “Hey, we love Obama.”

SIGNORILE: Let me say the world is changing dramatically. Just in the past few months, we have the governor of New York, an African- American leader. We have the NAACP president, Julian Bond. We have the governor of Massachusetts. We have Reverend Al Sharpton all saying that marriage is a civil rights issue for gays and lesbians.

And we’ve had enormous change. Iowa, Vermont, so it’s changing. I think the president is going to change. And he’s not standing in the way of marriage. And Hillary Clinton has already shifted a lot, too. The terrain is shifting. This is a civil rights issue.

MARTIN: But the CNN poll shows that 65 percent of Americans still say they’re against same-sex marriage.


MARTIN: It’s shifting, but the numbers are still there.

SIGNORILE: In 1967, 70 percent of Americans were opposed to interracial marriage, but the world changed. People stood up and led the way. And I think you would have been proud in ’67 if the judges at the Miss America pageant or Miss USA pageant voted down a contestant because they didn’t believe in interracial marriage. They did the right thing. [OUCH! Smackdown.]

MARTIN: My issues not even with the contestant. That’s not my point. My point is she said, “This is my position on it.” And my deal is you should be able to say where you stand on it.

COOPER: We’ve got a question from a viewer, a text question. This is from Lilibelle (ph) from Washington. She asked, “Do you think it was fair to ask the same-sex marriage question to even begin with?”

SIGNORILE: Well, the pageant wanted them to ask questions about social issues, about public affairs issues, about what’s happening in the country.

COOPER: She said she had rehearsed an answer for that. I mean, she had expected it.

SIGNORILE: Right. She picked Perez Hilton, an openly gay man who was a judge.

MARTIN: Well, she picked that out of a jar. So it’s not like, “I’m going to choose him.” She pulled his name out.

COOPER: Do you think it was a valid question?

MARTIN: Was it a valid question? Yes, but frankly for the Miss — Miss USA or Miss California, I don’t think America was sitting at home saying, “I really want to know what the beauty pageant person thinks about various social issues.” I don’t think they’re actually doing that. I don’t look to leadership on public policy issues from a beauty pageant contestant.

COOPER: Michael, you have a radio show on Sirius. People are still talking about this.

SIGNORILE: People are still talking about it, because it was a flash point. I think also because they see that there’s this, now, once again sort of a whipping up on the conservative right to use her and try to claim she was a victim.

She is probably going to have all kinds of offers for jobs. Does anybody know, as you said, the name of the actual winner of the pageant?


SIGNORILE: She’s doing fine.

MARTIN: Both sides are whipping this whole thing up. They’re both using it to their advantage.

COOPER: We’ll leave it there. Roland Martin, Michelangelo Signorile, good to have you on. Thank you very much.

Mike blogged about the tussle here.

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