If you haven‚Äôt seen the YouTube moment from the Miss U.S.A. Beauty Pageant, when gossip maven Perez Hilton turned all serious journalist for a couple of minutes and asked Miss California Carrie Prejean what she believed about same-sex marriage, it‚Äôs time to turn in your gay card. The now-famous answer that the beauty queen stumbled through, where she blathered that she believed Americans could choose between ‚Äúopposite marriage‚ÄĚ and same-sex marriage, ultimately cost her the Miss U.S.A. title, because Judge Hilton gave her a zero score for her response.
Hilton has gone on CNN and other news channels since then and called Miss California the ‚ÄúB‚ÄĚ word, and said that at least he didn‚Äôt use what he was thinking: the ‚ÄúC‚ÄĚ word! Miss California has gone on the Fox network to say she was only saying what the Bible told her to.
The cable networks and the blogosphere are loving it. Unfortunately, in addition to the traditional marriage dinosaurs, there‚Äôs been an equally rabid outcry from concerned queer citizens, who are wondering how Hilton has become the face of same-sex marriage in the United States.
Stepping into the fray, Equality California has extended an invitation to Miss California to meet with GLBTers from her home state, ‚Äú to start a dialogue about who LGBT people are and the harm that is caused by denying LGBT community members equality.‚ÄĚ
Geoff Kors, executive director of EQCA, was prompted to extend the invitation after learning about another suicide linked to anti-gay bullying. He noted that they wanted to ‚Äúdiscuss how sentiments such as those expressed by Miss California can contribute to a climate that leads to harassment and bullying of LGBT youth,‚ÄĚ according to an EQCA press release. For the second time in two weeks, a middle school student ‚Äď this time Jaheem Herrera, an 11-year-old Georgia student - has hung himself after enduring daily harassment and students calling him ‚Äúgay and a snitch.‚ÄĚ Just two weeks ago, an 11-year-old in Massachusetts hung himself after being the repeated target of gay taunts.
‚ÄúMiss California probably doesn‚Äôt realize how hurtful her statements are, especially to LGBT youth,‚ÄĚ Kors said in the statement. ‚ÄúBut this is about something much bigger than the issue of marriage alone, and I have to believe that if she meets us, she will come to see our humanity, and at the very least, I hope she will understand that what she says as Miss California can either hurt people or bring them together.‚ÄĚ
Finally, a former Miss California (2003) Nicole Lamarche ‚Äď who also won the Miss America swimsuit competition in 2004 ‚Äď has released a lengthy statement about the controversy. At the time she won Miss California, Lamarche was studying for master of divinity degree at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. She is married to fellow seminarian Jeremy Nickel and now serves as minister at Cotuit Federated Church in Cotuit, Mass, the trailblazing state in the march for same-sex marriage rights.
‚ÄúAs a pastor and a former Miss California, I am often asked to interpret what the Word of God has to say on a particular subject,‚ÄĚ Rev. Lamarche says. ‚ÄúI am quite confident that God prefers that we human beings stick to speaking for ourselves. And yet there are occasions when God‚Äôs Word is used as a weapon, and I feel compelled to speak.
Larmarch notes that using ‚Äúpieces of the Bible to further one‚Äôs own prejudice fails to meet the Bible on its own terms. Most people seeking to condemn gay people point to the Book of Leviticus, where we read that men lying with men is an abomination. However, we rarely hear of other verses found in the book of Leviticus that are equally challenging. For example, Leviticus also tells us that eating shrimp and lobster is an abomination. And that a person should not wear material woven of two kinds of material - an impossible mandate for a pageant contestant!
‚ÄúIn Paul‚Äôs letter to the community in Corinth we read, ‚ÄėFor it is shameful for a woman to speak in church‚Ä¶.‚Äô And yet these words have not prevented Christian denominations from ordaining women, such as myself. Sadly, the Bible has been used to further prejudice throughout history. We have used it to permit ourselves to enslave people; to conquer and kill; and to denigrate the earth.
‚ÄúThe truth is that it is difficult to know for sure the intentions of the biblical authors, but we do know something about God. Those of us who know God through Jesus of Nazareth know that he went to great lengths to express God‚Äôs love to people who were labeled as outcasts. He spent time with children, prostitutes, and lepers, all of whom were labeled as outside of the grasp of the Holy.‚ÄĚ
Spoken like a true beauty queen ‚Äď the type where the beauty travels well below the surface.