THE crowning of Miss USA has been hit with controversy after the runner up was booed for her answer to a question about legalising same-sex marriage.
Miss North Carolina USA Kristen Dalton was crowned Miss USA 2009 on Sunday, beating out 50 other beauty queens in the live pageant televised from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
But her runner up, Miss California Carrie Prejean, of San Diego, shocked the audience when she answered a question about legalising same-sex marriage. The tall blonde stumbled some before giving an answer that appeared to please the pageant audience.
Here her response here, which shocked onlookers.
"We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage," Prejean said. "And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offence to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."
Some in the audience cheered, others booed. The answer sparked a shouting match in the lobby after the show.
"It's ugly," said Scott Ihrig, a gay man, who attended the pageant with his partner. "I think it's ridiculous that she got first runner-up. That is not the value of 95 percent of the people in this audience. Look around this audience and tell me how many gay men there are."
Charmaine Koonce, the mother of Miss New Mexico USA Bianca Carla, argued back.
"In the Bible it says marriage is between Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve!"
The pageant had enjoyed a scandal-free year until earlier this month, when Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza was skewered for a blog posting from a trip to Guantanamo Bay. The entry described having "aloooot of fun" at a base that houses the notorious military prison; it was later deleted from the pageant's Web site.
The contest, which is owned by NBC and reality TV mogul Donald Trump, was hosted by "Access Hollywood" co-anchor Billy Bush and Nadine Velazquez of the NBC sitcom "My Name is Earl." This year's judges included "Saturday Night Live" cast member Kenan Thompson, "Dancing with the Stars" winner Kelly Monaco and gossip blogger Perez Hilton.
Miss Wyoming USA Cynthia Pate, of Casper, Wyo., was voted Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants. Jessi Pierson, of Milton, W.Va., was voted Miss Photogenic through an online contest on the Miss Universe Web site.