Local Students Defending Miss Cali's Answer

Vista High School graduate Carrie Prejean is getting national attention for her answer to a question about gay marriage that some say may have cost her the Miss USA Pageant crown.

Carrie Prejean defended her views Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show, telling host Matt Lauer that she spoke from the heart during Sunday's pageant when she gave an answer that got a mixed reaction from the pageant audience.

"We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage," Prejean said. "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."

The beauty queen's response to a question from openly gay pageant judge and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton has received more attention than the winner, Miss North Carolina Kristen Dalton.

Hilton said his question was relevant and that Prejean should have "left her politics and her religion out because Miss USA represents all Americans."

Local students at Prejean's alma mater told the North County Times that they think she was getting unfairly criticized.

"She's being punished for telling the truth," said Blake McGinness, a senior at the school.

She graduated from Vista High School in 2005, the paper reported.

Teachers there said she was very active at the campus and was president of the Associated Student Body and was also a member of the Christian club and a varsity basketball player.

"She was a strong woman who had principles and direction in her life," said Debbie Edmund, who was the Associated Student Body director when Prejean was there.

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