The new Carrie Prejean?

Tomorrow: another Tuesday, another long night of public testimony for & against the Anchorage equal rights ordinance.

As tomorrow approaches, there are some things I wonder, & some things I don’t.

  • I don’t wonder if the fundamentalist anti-ordinance forces will bus in a lot of red-shirted adults from the Mat-Su — outside the boundaries of where the ordinance, if passed, will have effect — to advocate for the denial of equal rights protections from people who will be affected by whether the ordinance passes or not.  After all, they’ve already signed up to testify, & have already been told that their testimony will be heard.
  • I do wonder if the fundamentalist anti-ordinance forces will also bus in scores of kids in red shirts, as they did last week, to act, again, as walking billboards for the Alaska Family Council and other views that the kids themselves don’t necessarily understand.
  • I don’t wonder if I’ll be there.  In blue.
  • I do wonder if the the latest beauty queen candidate to join Carrie Prejean in the hearts & minds of conservative antigdaydom will make another appearance in tiara, sash, & bright red shirt.

But I shouldn’t wonder.  Maybe I should just look up the official events on the schedule of the recently crowned Mrs. Alaska United States®, Renee’ Scott.  Nope, nothing for Tuesday the 16th on the calendar.  We’ve learned the Anchorage Assembly will continue taking testimony at a special meeting on Wednesday the 17th, too — but nope, nothing on Mrs. Scott’s calendar for that day, either.

But if you look back a week, at June 9 — last Tuesday — you’ll see this item:

June 9, 2009
Anchorage City Assembly Meeting

Mrs. Alaska and Mrs. Anchorage attended the Anchorage
Assembly Meeting discussing city ordinance measures.  CLICK
HERE
to watch the Channel 2 KTUU video footage.

I first heard of Mrs. Alaska United States® last week shortly before I headed over to the Loussac Library for last Tuesday’s Assembly event, when I checked Facebook & found someone had posted a brief item by Julia O’Malley.  Julia, you may remember, had the week before posted a story about meeting Rev. Jerry Prevo of the Anchorage Baptist Temple. In this item, titled  “Mrs. Alaska and gay rights,” Julia wrote:

Just when I thought I’d heard everything when it comes to the city’s equal rights ordinance, I got a press release about Renee’ Scott, aka Mrs. Alaska, the state’s newly-crowned representative in the competitive world of married beauty queens.

As her first act of business, she will be showing up at the Assembly meeting tonight to stand against the mayor’s “effort at instating special rights for homosexuals.” She’ll be wearing red, the color of the ordinance’s opponents, along with her crown and sash.

Really? We have record numbers of homeless people dying in the woods in Anchorage, villages decimated by flooding on the Yukon, sky-high rates of domestic violence and alcoholism, and the Mrs. is getting wound-up about protecting gay people from discrimination? This is priority number one?

Julia went on to quote Mrs. Scott’s press release, which was apparently issued on June 8, the day after the Mrs. Alaska United States® pageant was held at the Anchorage Marriott Downtown:

Newly crowned Mrs. Alaska to stand against proposed Sexual Orientation special rights proposal at Anchorage Assembly meeting.

Just last night, Renee’ Scott of Anchorage was crowned Mrs. Alaska United States 2009 and tomorrow night, June 9th, she will be at the Anchorage Assembly meeting at 6:30 pm at the Loussac Library to stand against Acting Mayor, Matt Claman’s, last second effort at instating special rights for homosexuals.

On Sunday night, June 7th, Renee’ Scott won the title of Mrs. Alaska 2009, and just 2 days later, June 9th at 6:30 pm at the Loussac Library, she will be wearing her newly acquired Mrs. Alaska sash and crown at the Anchorage Assembly meeting standing against Acting Mayor, Matt Claman’s, move to instate special rights for gays, lesbians and transgenders.

A member of Anchorage Baptist Temple, Renee’ Scott plans to wear the color “red” with other opponents of the proposed measure, along with her new Mrs. Alaska sash and crown.

Renee’ Scott plans to use her title as Mrs. Alaska United States to represent traditional marriage and family-focused issues.

I read that & just kind of shook my head.  I’d never heard of the Mrs. Alaska United States® pageant before — I’m not a pageant follower — though like pretty much everyone else I knew that Gov. Sarah Palin was a past runner up in a statewide contest.  And who hasn’t heard about former Miss California USA 2009 Carrie Prejean, who having initially retained her crown in the wake of her anti-same sex marriage comments at the national Miss USA contest, lost it last week (the day after Mrs. Scott donned her red shirt at the Loussac)  on the grounds of “continued breach of contract issues.”  I haven’t cared about the Carrie Prejean controversy any more than I have about beauty pageants in general — sorry, the world of beauty pageantry is not that significant to me.  Besides,  maybe I’m just used to beauty queens making themselves into representatives of the forces opposing equal rights for LGBT people.  Remember Anita Bryant?

So here’s what I learned from the story:

  1. there’s a pageant called Mrs. Alaska United States®;
  2. a new Mrs. Alaska U.S. had just been crowned;
  3. the newly-crowned Mrs. Alaska U.S. was a member of the Anchorage Baptist Temple; &,
  4. guess what, she’d be using her official Mrs. Alaska U.S. tiara and sash to stand forth against “special rights” [sic] for LGBT people.  (Translation: she would be standing up for special rights for Anchorage Baptist Temple members & other conservative Christians to discriminate against LGBT people in employment, housing, credit/finance, and public accommodations, & to demand that all other people including those who didn’t want it have that special right too.) — Oh yes, & I also learned from the story that
  5. anti-ordinance forces would be wearing red.  I hadn’t known that before.
Mrs. Alaska United States and Mrs. Anchorage United States outside the Wilda Marston Theatre near the Assembly chambers

Mrs. Alaska United States® and Mrs. Anchorage United States outside the Wilda Marston Theatre near the Assembly chambers

Other than passing that info on to another couple of people, I forgot all about it until later in the evening, when I  took advantage of a break from the proceedings inside the Assembly chambers to visit the restroom, & caught a glimpse (duly recorded with my Nikon Coolpix S10 digital camera) of not one but two women in tiaras & sashes standing just outside the Wilda Marson Theatre.  The other woman, I learned later, was Mrs. Anchorage United States ®, Anna Foerster, who had also received her title on June 7, apparently a title which came to her as runner-up in the pageant.  No idea if she’s also an ABT member.

Mrs. Carol Prevo beside Mrs. Alaska United States, Renee Scott. Photo courtesy AK Muckracker

Mrs. Carol Prevo (Rev. Prevo's wife) beside Mrs. Alaska United States®, Renee' Scott. Photo courtesy AK Muckracker

Then back inside the Assembly chambers and, as I described in my account of Tuesday night’s events, I knew little else of what was going on outside until I got home that night and read Phil Munger’s Progressive Alaska post about outside events, & the following day AK Muckraker’s Mudflats account.   AKMuckraker reported:

Miss Alaska and Mrs. Alaska were both there in tiny dresses and tiaras to support those who were opposing the ordinance. I don’t get that excited about beauty pageants, but aren’t these women supposed to be representing the whole state? Why, I thought, were they here in full regalia on such a divisive issue?

(Slight correction: based on other info, I think it was the newly-crowned Mrs. Anchorage U.S., not Miss Alaska, who was accompanying Mrs. Scott.)

Mrs. Alaska United States prepares to parade children through the protest. Photo courtesy Phil Munger

Mrs. Alaska United States® prepares to parade children through the protest. Photo courtesy Phil Munger

Phil Munger’s post was principally about on the red-shirted kids that had been bused in by Anchorage and Mat-Su fundamentalist churches; his mention of Mrs. Alaska U.S. was in that context:

The kids, some less than ten, were mostly without parents. They were sort of clumped together, perhaps by congregation, or by home schooling support group. Dozens of adults were taking pictures of the kids, some encouraged by the Christianist adults around the youngsters. I took about 70 photos. Here are a few. The first six are of some of the kids. The last two are of Mrs. Alaska, as she prepared to parade some of the kids through the demonstrators, and then as she paraded them.

(Christianist is a term I first heard from Atlantic Monthly blogger Andrew Sullivan — a useful term that to me conveys not Christiantity as religion, but rather Christianity as political ideology.  Sullivan, who is gay, Catholic, & conservative — but not a “war of values” social conservative — does not feel any more represented by the religious right than my friend Dianne O’Connell of Immanuel Presbyterian Church does; in an essay written for Time magazine, Sullivan writes, “let me suggest that we take back the word Christian while giving the religious right a new adjective: Christianist. Christianity, in this view, is simply a faith. Christianism is an ideology, politics, an ism.” That’s the sense in which Phil used the term.  I use it sometimes too.)

Mrs. Alaska United States parades kids outside the Loussac Library, June 9, 2009. Photo courtesy Phil Munger

Mrs. Alaska United States parades kids outside the Loussac Library, June 9, 2009. Photo courtesy Phil Munger

But all in all, the exploits of the new Mrs. Alaska United States® were pretty low on my radar, & on the radar of most people I was talking with too. But it did come up in discussion last Thursday on the Facebook wall of a friend of mine.  A few of us started exchanging information.  Being something of a research geek about things that inspire my curiosity — given the right hook, apparently even about beauty pageants — I started doing some extra digging.  Here’s some of what I & other people learned:

  • First of all, don’t confuse Mrs. Alaska United States® with Mrs. Alaska America.  They are two different pageants with two different sets of sponsors. This year’s Mrs. Alaska America will be held on July 18 at Bartlett High School; the pageant is affiliated with the national level Mrs. America pageant.  I can’t find any official statement to confirm, but private information has it that the Mrs. Alaska America pageant organizers are less than happy with the confusion created by use in the media & blogs of plain old “Mrs. Alaska” as Mrs. Scott’s pageant title, since the Mrs. Alaska America pageant doesn’t wish to be mistakenly associated with Mrs. Scott’s anti-ordinance, anti-gay political agenda, which they do not apparently share.  Notice how carefully I’ve been using the title Mrs. Alaska United States® or Mrs. Alaska U.S. throughout this post?  This is why.  Don’t forget the little registered trademark mark! ®
  • The Mrs. Alaska United States® pageant is affiliated with the national Mrs. United States pageant. Eligibility requirements for competitors: “The Mrs. Alaska pageant requires its competitors to be at least 21 years old, a property owner or resident of Alaska, and married (no specific length of marriage is necessary).   Contestants are judged on 1/4 personal interview, 1/4 swim wear, 1/4 evening gown and 1/4 on-stage question.  Besides the overall title, contestants may compete in various optional competitions.”
  • For those who wonder, as I did, if title-holders are supposed to wear official tiaras and sashes while representing political views which may not be the official views of the pageant, I could find only this  statement: “The Pageant Sponsors, Directors, Judges and Pageant Officials Do Not Represent the Personal Opinions, Expressions or Platforms of the Contestants, Reigning Mrs. Anchorage, or Reigning Mrs. Alaska.” My thought: all those capital letters make that Really Hard To Read.  My other thought: don’t you have that backwards?  Don’t you really mean to say that the personal opinions etc. of the contestants & title-winners don’t represent the views of the pageant sponsors & official?  Think about it: would Donald Trump really need to tell us that he doesn’t represent the views of Carrie Prejean?  Just saying.
  • Speaking of sponsors, here’s their sponsor page. Apparently the list is not quite complete, since it omits a sponsor mentioned on the events page, to wit: “Escorted by an official pageant sponsor, Harley Davidson of Alaska, Mrs. Alaska United States® 2009, Renee’ Scott and Mrs. Anchorage, Alaska 2009 will be participating in the downtown Anchorage 4th of July parade.”
  • The pageant’s director is Laura Dagon, who is founder and director of pageant sponsor Laura’s Modeling & Talent Agency.

Now, I don’t plan myself to write to the pageant or any of its sponsors to protest Mrs. Scott’s use of official tiara & sash in her Tuesday anti-ordinance action. I’ve got better things to spend my times writing — like this blog post!  Besides, I don’t personally use the services or products of any of the pageant’s sponsors, not did I even have Clue #1 that this pageant even existed before last Tuesday, so for me to tell them I was going to boycott their services would be something of an empty threat, no?  Besides which, I believe in free speech.  Of course, free speech also means you have the free speech right to write to the pageant & it’s sponsors if you want to, which is part of why I put this info together: so you’ll write to the correct people.  Again, don’t confuse the Mrs. Alaska United States® pageant with the Mrs. Alaska America people.

Besides which — well, read that press release again.  Here, let me post it again:

Newly crowned Mrs. Alaska to stand against proposed Sexual Orientation special rights proposal at Anchorage Assembly meeting.

Just last night, Renee’ Scott of Anchorage was crowned Mrs. Alaska United States 2009 and tomorrow night, June 9th, she will be at the Anchorage Assembly meeting at 6:30 pm at the Loussac Library to stand against Acting Mayor, Matt Claman’s, last second effort at instating special rights for homosexuals.

On Sunday night, June 7th, Renee’ Scott won the title of Mrs. Alaska 2009, and just 2 days later, June 9th at 6:30 pm at the Loussac Library, she will be wearing her newly acquired Mrs. Alaska sash and crown at the Anchorage Assembly meeting standing against Acting Mayor, Matt Claman’s, move to instate special rights for gays, lesbians and transgenders.

A member of Anchorage Baptist Temple, Renee’ Scott plans to wear the color “red” with other opponents of the proposed measure, along with her new Mrs. Alaska sash and crown.

Renee’ Scott plans to use her title as Mrs. Alaska United States to represent traditional marriage and family-focused issues.

Now think of some of the other things we saw last Tuesday night that originated wholly or in part from the Christianist political mind of the Rev. Jerry Prevo.  Anti-ordinance people in red shirts bused in from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough to ask a government other than their own to continue to permit discrimination against its own citizens.  Check.  A hundred or so freshly scrubbed children in red shirts bused in to carry signs mass produced by Alaska Family Council which made the ridiculous assertion that ordinance AO 2009-64 would “outlaw dissent.”  Check.  Do you begin to see a pattern here?

With this very specific press release, with all its repetitions of details — “wearing her newly acquired Mrs. Alaska sash and crown and along with her new Mrs. Alaska sash and crownwell, isn’t it pretty obvious that this was all a cynical ploy by Prevo & company, with Mrs. Scott’s willing participation, to bait us? They wanted us to react.  They were hoping we’d make a big old stink, & then they could complain about what intolerant meanies we were, just like that meanie Perez Hilton & all those other meanie California homosexuals who were just so mean to poor Miss (former) California Carrie Prejean.  Perhaps they hoped to make Mrs. Scott into the next Carrie Prejean, a martyr to the cause of Christianist special rights.

How disappointing for them, then, that mostly we ignored her.  While there’s been some comments here & there, mostly of the “do you believe this?” sort, we have better things to do than worry about a pageant that frankly most of us had never heard of before. Let the pageant owners & sponsors themselves police whatever contractual obligations Ms. Scott has as a representative of the pageant; let the pageant owners and sponsors worry about the cynical use Prevo & company have made of their organization. Frankly, I reckon this was just what Rev. Prevo did instead of putting some beardo-in-a-devil-mask in the Loussac women’s bathroom that night.

Pretty comical, really.  Rev. Prevo, you’re losing your knack.

Or maybe it’s just that more people in Anchorage are on to you now. Enough, even, that you had to bus people from outside the Municipality to shore up your support.

That leaves me just a couple more points to make. First, when we were discussing this on Facebook last week, I initially believed that Mrs. Scott had possibly colluded with Rev. Prevo in manipulating the pageant without the pageant’s knowledge.  It seemed to me that she had possibly mispresented her platform as a contestant.  A couple of weeks before the pageant, answering Kellie Davis of examiner.com, she gave her platform as follows:

My platform is age oppression in young girls. As a mother of a seven year old daughter I have found that the media in every facet is trying to shrink the window of innocence in our young girls. Influencing them to dress provocatively which has even been linked to the decrease of self esteem and increase in suicide rates in teen girls. Promoting birth control instead of abstinence, and marketing “toys” like tattoo Barbie. Parenting isn’t about raising a daughter that has low self esteem that feels like she needs to be 16 when she’s 7. I want to raise a confident, strong, beautiful on the inside and out young woman. I believe if we raise awareness in other mothers about this issue we could change our next generation mothers and create stronger healthier women.

But according to her press release:

Renee’ Scott plans to use her title as Mrs. Alaska United States to represent traditional marriage and family-focused issues.

I have no idea know what she told pageant judges during the pageant itself, but if she told them the same thing about age oppression in young girls as she told Kellie Davis, that too gives the impression that she misrepresented her intentions about how she would wield her crown to the pageant.  But then again, in her June 8 radio interview on KASH Country 107.5, when asked about her agenda as Mrs. Alaska United States, she talked very personably about the age oppression issue, and said nothing about the ordinance or plans to represent “traditional” marriage.  So maybe this was just a one-time deal?

At any rate, turns out that at least some pageant officials approved of her ordinance plan.  I emailed Julia O’Malley to ask if the press release she’d quoted in the ADN came from Mrs. Scott personally, or from pageant.  Her message back was brief and to the point:

The press release came from the Mrs. Alaska USA Pageant, and gave the head of the pageant as the contact person.

Given that her activities last Tuesday night at the Loussac are also included on her official Mrs. Alaska United States® events page, this indicates that opposition to the ordinance, and opposition to equal protections under the law for LGBT Anchorage residents, is an officially sanctioned position of the Mrs. Alaska United States® pageant. (I have no idea if it is also sanctioned by the national Mrs. United States pageant.)

And you know what?  That’s fine. That’s Mrs. Scott’s right, & that’s the pageant’s right.  The pageant is, after all, a private enterprise.   Registered trademark and all.  So as far as I’m concerned, I’ll leave ‘em to it, & let ‘em alone — other than to point out, as I have now, at length, their participation in a fairly obvious tactic by Mrs. Scott’s pastor to bait us.

Point the last. Who does Mrs. Alaska United States ®egistered Trademark represent?  Here’s what she claimed to KTUU Channel 2 News:

As Mrs. Alaska I represent married women and Alaskans and I find it shocking that the Assembly is trying to pass this ordinance without giving Alaskans the right to vote.

Hey, I’m an Alaskan, she doesn’t represent me.  But how about married women?  Why, I know a married woman who also happens to be an Alaskan.  I decided to ask her.  So earlier this evening, I called up my sister-in-law.

“I’ve got a couple of questions for you, Linda,” I said.  “First, did you vote for Mrs. Alaska United States®?”

Turns out Linda, too, had never heard of this pageant, but after a brief moment of confusion, she laughed and said, “No, of course not!”

“Do you feel that Mrs. Alaska United States® represents you?” I asked.

“No,” she repeated, “What are  you talking about?”  After a brief explanation of the pageant and Mrs. Scott’s claim of representation, Linda told me that she figured the only people who had voted for Mrs. Scott were the pageant judges, opined that privately trademarked beauty pageants were not, in point of face, representative democracies, and furthermore said she doubted Mrs. Scott represented any of the married women who are Linda’s friends.

No more representative of them, in fact, than the Christianists are of the rest of the Christians.

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2 Responses to The new Carrie Prejean?

  1. Lindy E. says:

    Funny that you have no interest in pageants, and are unwilling to be baited by Mr. Prevo, and yet you went to such lengths to write this blog. Seems that Mr. Prevo, the pageant officials, and Mrs. Scott all got their way – you just told us how to become Mrs. Alaska (an organization you only recently learned of and now a tremendous amount about) and even provided a link to their site, you told us repeatedly why Mrs. Scott opposes the ordinance, and even advertised her supposed sponsor.

    • Mel says:

      Hey, Lindy, thanks for reading.

      I’m not entirely sure what you found funny about why I decided to write this post: as I wrote in the post, I am “something of a research geek about things that inspire my curiosity — given the right hook, apparently even about beauty pageants.” (Though to tell the truth I often find my own geekiness about stuff like this funny. Just part of who I am, I guess.) In this case, the biggest hook was discovering yet another of Prevo & company’s cynical ploys to get their way, & explaining the ploy to an interested readership. This post, along with other posts describing Prevo’s dishonest political methods — especially Prevo’s red herrings & Prevo’s devil masks — are in fact the most popular posts at this site to date. I’m hoping that the post also helped the Mrs. Alaska America people by making clear to readers that they (& their sponsors) had nothing to do with Prevo’s ploy, since a couple of my sources tell me that they don’t hold the same views as the Mrs. Alaska U.S. pageant does, & they don’t deserve to get letters from anyone who did decide to write to gripe about this. On top of all that I learned a bit, & enjoyed the challenge of making something I don’t normally write about interesting to my readers. Based on comments I’ve gotten (not all of them here, obviously) I succeeded.

      Meanwhile, if there are antigay pageant fans who are thrilled at the Mrs. Alaska U.S.’s participation in Prevo & co.’s theatrics, great, now they know which pageant will welcome their views, & which sponsors (not “supposed” but actually advertised on the pageant’s website) to go & buy stuff from. Free speech, free association, etc.: have fun.

      Thanks again for reading.

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