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Lesbians Make History, Compete for Miss California Crown

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Jan 11, 2012

Two open lesbians recently competed in the Miss California USA pageant making history as the first openly gay participants in the 60 years the competition has been around, the Los Angeles Times reported in a Jan. 9 article.

Jenelle Hutcherson, 26, of Long Beach, and Mollie Thomas, 19, of West Hollywood, competed in the state's latest Miss California pageant but unfortunately, both lost.

Thomas, who goes to UCLA part-time, said she wanted to be a contestant in the competition because she wanted to represent the LGBT community in a positive light.

"I'm running for equality and will use this in order to promote visibility on current issues, to become a youth advocate and a role model," she said in an interview before the competition.

During the latest event, more than 400 women competed to become the next Miss California USA and Miss California Teen USA. It was Natalie Pack, 22, who claimed the top spot and was crowned the winner. She will move on to compete against other women from around the country for the coveted title of Miss USA.

Even though Miss America pageants are usually traditional and formal, officials of the state competition urged participants to show their individuality and wanted them to "push the envelope even further," according to the co-executive of the event, Keith Lewis.

Carrie Prejean won a similar state title in 2009 and was Miss USA 2009's first runner-up. She gained media attention when she expressed her views on same-sex marriage during the pageant, saying that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Celebrity gossip blogger and Miss USA judge Perez Hilton asked Prejean about her views on gay marriage laws in the U.S. and criticized her anti-gay marriage answers on his wildly popular blog.

In a recent similar incident, Miss Belgium 2012 was criticized for not fully supporting gay marriage, conservative website Life Site News reported in a Jan. 9 article.

The country was the second nation in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

"What is your opinion on homosexual marriage," a judged asked 19-year-old Laura Beyne.

"It's true that there are an increasing number of homosexuals, but it is also important to know that they are human beings," she replied. "I think that they can do more or less what they want. At this time I am more or less in favor of homosexual marriage."

She then was asked about gay adoption.

"There are other problems like the adoption of children, and I think that that is a different subject, a little more difficult, but I am not against homosexual marriage."

Despite her statements, Beyne was crowned Miss Belgium and will move on to the Miss Universe pageant.

"My response regarding homosexual marriages was not made out of spite," she told the media. "It is above all for homosexuals that I would like to tell them that I expressed myself poorly due to stress."


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