More than a week after Miss California Carrie Prejean spoke out against "opposite marriage" at the 2009 Miss USA Pageant, her "gay activist" sister is coming to her defense and lashing out at Perez Hilton, judge who questioned Prejean about gay marriage during the competition and subsequently bashed her on his blog.
"Considering what she was going through, the circumstances of being put on the spot, given such a short amount of time to think and respond … she said what she felt in her heart would be the best answer," Christina Prejean told ABCNews.com. "She and I have talked about this subject; we both respect each other's views. I support civil unions that would give same sex couples equal, legal rights and privileges."
At the pageant, Prejean seemed initially tongue-tied answering to Hilton's question before saying that marriage should be between a man and a woman, drawing a mixed reaction from the audience and a look of thinly veiled disgust from Hilton.
In the days afterward, Prejean attempted to quell criticism of her conservative marriage views by saying that her sister is a gay activist.
"My sister is a second lieutenant in the Air Force and she is a gay rights activist," Prejean told "Access Hollywood" last week, adding that Christina is not gay. "She supports gay people, she supports gay marriage. My beliefs have nothing to do with my sister or my mom, or whatever."
Christina Prejean, 22, admitted she was surprised to hear the beauty queen, 21, call her a gay activist.
"I have never even given myself that title. I was kind of surprised that she mentioned it, but I think she wanted to get the point across that our family is tolerant," Christina Prejean said, adding that she only recently got involved in gay rights activism.
"A couple weeks back, I attended a public forum in Idaho about protecting the LGBT community against discrimination," she continued. "That was the very first thing I attended, and I told her about it on the night of the pageant, after she said she felt bad that people might be offended by her response. … But that's obviously such a hot topic that either way, someone was going to be offended."
Miss California's Sister 'Appalled' by Perez Hilton
Christina Prejean said she is offended by Hilton's (real name: Mario Lavandeira) treatment of her sister after the pageant, whom he called a dumb b**** in a video posted on his blog. (Hilton later apologized on his blog, offering to take Prejean out for coffee and a "talk.")
"I was disappointed and appalled by his unprofessional behavior. He used language that's offensive not only to my sister but to all women," she said. "It showed his own hypocrisy because he speaks out about how people should be more tolerant, but at the same time he puts down people who don't share his own opinion."
Asked to respond, Hilton said simply, "I am praying for both her and her sister."
Since the fallout from the Miss USA pageant, Carrie Prejean, who finished as first runner-up, has defended her stance on gay marriage through the media and in church appearances, notably at San Diego's The Rock Church, which was active in the campaign to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriages in California last year. She was the guest of honor at morning services Sunday, where she recounted her side of the story to the congregation.
She said pageant officials counseled her to apologize, saying "'You need to apologize to the gay community. You need to not talk about your faith. This has everything to do with you representing California and saving the brand,'" she recalled. "I was representing California. I was representing the majority of people in California."
Keith Lewis, who runs the Miss California USA competition, responded with the following statement:
"Given the fact that Carrie Prejean's first act upon returning to California was to headline five services at a church that promotes homosexuality as both unnatural and abnormal, we stand by our concern for her individual image and look forward to a time in the near future when she can put down her personal agenda and assume the responsibilities associated with being Miss California USA."
Some, including "The View's" Elisabeth Hasselbeck, have suggested Carrie Prejean might make the prefect poster child for conservative values.
Prejean's sister agrees.
"She wants to be a role model," Christina Prejean said. "Before the pageant, she said she wanted to explore modeling or be a teacher for children with special needs, but she is open to political opportunities. I know she doesn't want to close the door to anything."