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Gay Miss California Pageant Director Defends 'Miss Beverly Hills'

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In the wake of yesterday's media frenzy surrounding the self-proclaimed "Miss Beverly Hills"' strong views on homosexuality, the Miss California pageant has spoken out in favor of Lauren Ashley's right to her title and to her opinions.

Beverly Hills has disavowed the young beauty queen, with Mayor Nancy Krasne telling the LA Times that "We are dismayed by any potential association with the city of Beverly Hills, which has a long history of tolerance and respect," However, under Miss California pageant rules, the contestants are allowed to pick the territories that they represent.

The Times cites Keith Lewis, a K2 Productions stage director for the pageant, as defensive of Miss Ashley's right to free expression. Lewis, a gay man and author of "For the Bible Tells Me So", a book about the religious right's use of the bible to stigmatize the gay community, feels she has been "unfairly pilloried" He goes on to tell the Times ""I don't agree with her, but I will fight to the death for her right to have her opinion."

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