"Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage," he said. "Do you think every state should follow suit, why or why not."
At first, Prejean seemed to trip over her words before giving an answer that drew a mixed reaction from the audience and a look of thinly veiled disgust from Hilton.
"I think it's great Americans are able to choose one or the other," she said. "We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what in my country, in my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be, between a man and a woman."
Apparently, though, some were offended by Prejean's answer. On television, there could be heard the sound of boos, drowned out somewhat by applause. Hilton has been blogging about what he called the "worst answer in pageant history" since the show ended.
In a video blog posted Sunday night, he called Prejean "a dumb b----." He later apologized in the blog, offering to take Prejean out for coffee and a "talk."
"I was floored," Hilton told ABCNews.com Monday. "I haven't said this before, but to her credit, I applaud her for her honesty. However, she is not a politician, she's a hopeful Miss USA. Miss USA should represent everyone. Her answer alienated millions of gay and lesbian Americans, their families and their supporters."
He also believes her answer cost her the contest because, to his knowledge, no Miss USA contestant has ever been booed during the question-and-answer portion of the show.
Hilton Suggests a Better Answer
"She lost it because of that question. She was definitely the front-runner before that," Hilton said, adding that he's "very happy with whom the judges chose," Miss North Carolina's Kristen Dalton.
Prejean told "Access Hollywood" on Monday that she felt like the winner, even though she came in second place, after receiving more than 1,000 messages on Facebook and 2,000 friend requests.
And even though, she believes her answer "did cost me my crown," she told the entertainment show, "I wouldn't have had it any other way. I said what I feel. I stated an opinion that was true to myself and that's all I can do. It is a very touchy subject and he [Perez] is a homosexual and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would've wanted me to be more politically correct. But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything."
Hilton said Prejean could have chosen an answer that he believed would have been less political. When he asked Miley Cyrus the same question on Twitter after the show, he was surprised by her response: "I believe that EVERYONE deserves to be happy. That's all I'm saying."
Comparing Cyrus and Prejean, Hilton said, "A 16-year-old gave a better answer. If she [Prejean] had said those two sentences, that would have been a better answer."
On his video blog, he offered another alternate answer. "I would have said, 'Hmm, Perez, that's a great question, that's a very hot topic in our country right now. And I think that's a question that each state should decide for themselves."
He also said what he would have done if Miss California had been crowned the winner.
"I would have gone up on stage -- I s--- you not ? and snatched that tiara off her head and run out the door," he said in his video blog. "I would probably have been arrested. But so be it. I need a cocktail now."
Keith Lewis, who runs the Miss California competition, released a statement to the media in response to Prejean's answer last night.
"As co-director of the Miss California USA, I am personally saddened and hurt that Miss California believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman," said Lewis in a statement. "I believe all religions should be able to ordain what unions they see fit. I do not believe our government should be able to discriminate against anyone and religious beliefs have no politics in the Miss California family."
Co-director Shanna Moakler, the 1995 Miss USA, told the media that she fully supported Lewis' statement.