Newly-crowned Miss USA Kristen Dalton and runner-up Carrie Prejean hold different views on gay marriage - but the former says the embattled Miss California has every right to her opinion and harbors no ill will towards her.
On the Today show, Al Roker asked Dalton how she would have responded to the gay marriage question posed to Prejean that sparked so much debate in the finals.
"The beautiful thing about America is that we have the right to choose what partner we want to love, commit and spend the rest of our lives with," Kristen said.
"I think that all couples should be able to be recognized legally, to enter into a union. Whether or not that should be defined as marriage, I'll leave that to politicians."
Despite opinions that politics and religion should be left out of the competition, Dalton said the gay marriage question, posed by judge Perez Hilton, was "fair."
"It's a social issue that surrounds us every day that citizens should be aware of," she said. "As a state representative, I think we should be prepared to answer it."
While they share different viewpoints, Kristen Dalton supports her rival.
"I'm proud of her for speaking from her heart, and she's passionate and what she believes in, and she's proud of herself," she said of Carrie Prejean. "I respect her."
"The beauty of America is that we all have a right to our own opinion."
This summer, the two have a chance to reunite. If Kristen Dalton wins the Miss Universe competition, Carrie Prejean could inherit her Miss USA title.
"I would love for Carrie to become Miss USA," Dalton said. "We were actually friends during the competition. I love her, and I think she's great."
The more important issue, obviously: Who would you rather ...