"Three weeks ago, I was asked a politically charged question with a hidden personal agenda," Prejean said Tuesday. "I was given a question asking for my, and I stated my personal belief. Immediately after the pageant, judge No. 8 began a cultural firestorm 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 as if she'd been unfairly victimized, Prejean said she forgave Hilton and everyone who'd 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.