Donald Trump's not letting a slew of semi-nude photos and conservative beliefs stop Carrie Prejean from being Miss California USA.
The real estate mogul and co-owner of the Miss USA organization announced Tuesday that the scandalized beauty queen, who spoke out against "opposite marriage" at the 2009 Miss USA pageant, igniting a fire storm of scrutiny about her stance on gay marriage and her modeling career, will keep her crown.
"[Prejean] gave a very, very honest answer when asked a very tough answer at a recent pageant. It's the same answer that the President of the United States gave. It's the same answer that many people gave," Trump said. "If her beauty wasn't so great, nobody really would've cared."
About the 21-year-old beauty queen's semi-nude photographs, more of which appeared online Tuesday, Trump said, "We have determined that the pictures taken are fine. ... In many cases, they were very lovely pictures."
Prejean spoke after Trump, thanking the organizations behind the pageant along with her family and her supporters. Without mentioning his name, she lashed out at Perez Hilton, the Miss USA pageant judge who asked what she thought of same sex marriage on April 19.
"Three weeks ago I was asked a politically charged question with a hidden personal agenda," Prejean said. "I was given a question asking for my opinion and I stated my personal belief. Immediately after the pageant, judge no. 8 began a cultural fire storm in the media ... he was trying to be self promoting and hateful."
"On April 19 on that stage, I exercised my freedom of speech," Prejean continued, fighting back tears. "And I was punished for doing so. This should not happen in America."
Despite feeling like she was unfairly victimized, Prejean said she forgives Hilton and everyone who criticized her following the pageant. Asked to respond to Prejean's statement, Hilton said simply, "She forgives me and I forgive her."
Ahead of Tuesday's news conference, Prejean's mother, Francine, came out in defense of her daughter, telling the blog MomLogic.com that the beauty queen is "being persecuted for speaking her opinion" about gay marriage. Prejean also told Christian radio host Dr. James Dobson that Satan tried to tempt her with a question about gay marriage at the Miss USA pageant.
Since the question-and-answer session from that pageant that thrust her into the spotlight, Prejean's story has evolved so fast that it's hard to keep track of all the details. This should help clear things up. Below, a time line of the controversy surrounding Carrie Prejean, from the Miss USA 2009 pageant to today.
April 19: Pageant judge Perez Hilton asks Prejean, "Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit, why or why not?" Prejean replies, "I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. 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 offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."
April 19: Following the pageant, Hilton posted a video on his blog condemning Prejean's answer and calling her a "dumb b****." He later apologized in the blog, offering to take Prejean out for coffee and a "talk."
Timeline of Carrie Prejean Controversy
April 20: Hilton tells ABCNews.com, "I was floored. I haven't said this before, but to her credit, I applaud her for her honesty. However, she is not a politician, she's a hopeful Miss USA. Miss USA should represent everyone. Her answer alienated millions of gay and lesbian Americans, their families and their supporters."
April 20: Prejean defends her comments via multiple media outlets and tells "Access Hollywood" 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 says, adding that her sister 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."
April 26: Prejean visits churches, including San Diego's The Rock Church, which was active in the campaign to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriages in California last year, to tell her side of the pageant story. She tells The Rock Church's congregation that pageant officials asked her to apologize to the gay community.
April 27: In response to Prejean's comments, Lewis issues a statement saying, "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."
April 29: Prejean's sister Christina tells ABCNews.com she was surprised the beauty queen called 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 says, adding that she only recently got involved in gay rights activism.
April 29: Moakler confirms reports that the Miss California organization paid for Prejean to get breast implants weeks before the Miss USA pageant.
Timeline of Carrie Prejean Controversy
April 30: Prejean tells NBC's "Today" show that she's going to Washington to work with the National Organization for Marriage, saying the union between a man and a woman is "something that is very dear to my heart."
May 1: The National Organization for Marriage issues a statement saying that although she appears in an ad on the organization's Web site, Prejean "does not work for the National Organization for Marriage. She is a spokesperson for her own views."
May 4: A topless photograph of Prejean in pink underwear appears on TheDirty.com. TMZ.com claims it also received topless photographs of Prejean but didn't publish them because the beauty queen's representatives said she was 17-years-old when the photos were taken.
May 5: Prejean says TheDirty.com and others are trying to belittle her religion, telling The Associated Press the semi-nude photos were released "surreptitiously to a tabloid Web site that openly mocks me for my Christian faith. ... I am a Christian, and I am a model. Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos."
May 6: Representatives for the Miss California USA organization confirm they're investigating whether Prejean violated the 12-page contract all contestants are required to sign before the November state contest. The document prohibits whoever holds the title of Miss California from making personal appearances, granting interviews or making commercials without permission from pageant officials and gives the pageant's directors the right to revoke her crown for breaching any of the document's provisions.
May 6: On "The View," Trump says Prejean's answer to the question of gay marriage posed during the Miss USA pageant was not so far off base. "That's the belief of 70 percent of the people, so it wasn't a horrible answer," he says. "That was her belief and she's taken hard hits. She's more famous because of it. No one is talking about the young woman who won. Nobody knows who she is."
May 11: Prejean's mother, Francine Prejean, tells MomLogic.com, "My daughter is a bright, beautiful, strong woman. ... She was raised in a Christian home. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Now she's being persecuted for speaking her opinion."
May 11: Miss California USA co-directors Lewis and Moakler unveil a new PSA promoting the organization and appoint the pageant's first runner-up, Tami Farrell, the organization's ambassador, effectively negating Prejean's role as the face of the pageant. Lewis asserts he wants to move on from Prejean, "get back to the business of beauty," and have Trump make the call on Prejean's fate.
May 12: Prejean tells Christian radio host Dr. James Dobson that Satan tried to tempt her with a question about gay marriage at the Miss USA pageant.
May 12: Donald Trump announces Prejean will keep her crown.
May 12: More photos of Prejean semi-nude emerge on TMZ.com, as TheDirty.com posts new pictures of her and Olympic champion Michael Phelps. The two are rumored to be dating.