A move up for Miss Malibu

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In addition to crowning the new Miss Malibu in August, Farrell will host the Miss California pageant in November. The 24-year-old beauty says being Miss California is "a huge honor" and she hopes to serve as a role model for young women. Photo courtesy of Kristen Bradford, Miss Malibu Pageant director

Local pageant winner Tami Farrell takes over as Miss California USA amid cheers and controversy.

By Kim Devore / Staff Writer

Was it a matter of taking a stand on gay marriage or failure to live up to contractual obligations? The reason may be in dispute, but one thing is certain: Carrie Prejean is out as Miss California, and first runner-up Tami Farrell has taken her place.

Last week, Miss USA pageant owner Donald Trump announced that Prejean had been fired. Farrell, who is the reigning Miss Malibu, suddenly found herself in the national spotlight. She had already taken over Prejean’s duties as the pageant’s “beauty ambassador,” but now she has the official title as well.

Prejean had stirred controversy earlier this year when she stated her stance against gay marriage. Then, published racy topless photos of her put her in an even hotter seat. Trump, however, at the time said he would not fire her, and praised Prejean for speaking her mind about same-sex marriage.

In the meantime, the Miss California USA organization appointed Miss Malibu Farrell as the “Beauty of California Ambassador,” in effect giving her the duties and responsibilities of a Miss California.

“This was a decision based solely on contract violations, including Ms. Prejean’s unwillingness to make appearances on behalf of the Miss California USA organization,” said Keith Lewis, co-executive director of the Miss California USA pageant. “It has become abundantly clear that Carrie is unwilling to fulfill her obligations under our contract and work together.”

But Prejean sees it differently, telling reporters she was canned for political reasons. “It is just because of my answer [on gay marriage],” she said. “None of this would be happening right now if I had just said, ‘Yeah, gays should get married.”

While Prejean came under fire for opposing same-sex unions, Farrell won praise for the way she handled the hot button issue which she calls, “a personal decision, a civil rights issue and something we should let each state decide.”

In addition to crowning the new Miss Malibu in August, Farrell will host the Miss California pageant in November. The 24-year-old beauty says being Miss California is “a huge honor” and she hopes to serve as a role model for young women.

“This is an incredible opportunity to work hand in hand with the Miss Universe Organization,” she said. “I will be working with the current Miss USA and Miss Universe to champion charities aligned with the program, as well as shedding light on programs I’m passionate about.”

This summer, Farrell will be busy with numerous local events including the Women in Film charity golf tournament, the Malibu Arts Festival and the annual Chili Cook-Off.

For more on Tami Farrell, look for her on the cover of Malibu Times Magazine’s Annual Summer Issue.