Progressive beauty pageant fans in California can come out from under their rocks now. Two years after Carrie Prejean, the Miss USA contestant from California in 2009, won the competition while expressing her opposition to marriage equality, a new Miss USA has been crowned. Alyssa Campanella, the new victor, is also Miss California, and she was one of the most progressive of the 51 contestants.
In web interviews that preceded Sunday's show, the 51 state delegates to the pageant answered a series of questions on camera that were posted to YouTube. Two were typical beauty pageant fodder questions - "Have you, or would you, use an online dating service?" and "How do you feel about being in a tasteful nude photo shoot?" - and one was simply offensive, asking contestants to impersonate a cat, a motor boat, a police siren, and a slot machine. But the other question - "Should evolution be taught in schools?" - elicited a range of interesting responses.
Campanella was one of the few to announce her support and belief in evolution. She said, "I was taught evolution in my high school growing up, and I do believe in it. I mean, I'm a huge science geek, so I like to believe in the Big Bang Theory and the evolution of humans throughout time." Seven other contestants, hailing from Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Vermont, and Washington, also said, without qualification, that it should be taught in schools.