The Miss USA pageant turned ugly on Monday when gossip blogger Perez Hilton asked Miss California, Carrie Prejean, about gay marriage.

Hilton, a judge on the pageant panel, asked the contestant: “Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalise same-sex marriage … do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?”

She replied “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 offence to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”

There were boos as well as cheers from the audience, and arguments developed backstage and in the crowd in response to her answer.

In 2008, California became the second state in the Union to legally allow same-sex marriages, though the issue has been consistently raised in state (arguably the most liberal state in the entire US) since the early 1970s.

Miss California went on to become the pageants runner-up, with Miss North Carolina, Kristen Dalton, taking the crown.

In video blog after the ceremony, an angry Hilton described Prejean’s response as “the worst answer in pageant history” and called her “a dumb bitch”.

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