Move over, Carrie Prejean — a new pageant winner is sharing her views on marriage equality.
Last week, Jimena Navarrete of Jalisco, Mexico was crowned Miss Universe. On the night of the pageant, she was asked a question about children and internet access, to which she responded, “I do believe that Internet is an indispensable, necessary tool for the present time…[but] We must be sure to teach them the values that we learned as a family.” The term “family values” is one often used by opponents of marriage equality, but as it turns out, that interpretation is far from what Navarrete meant.
This week, on a Mexican radio program, Navarrete spoke out in support of LGBT rights and marriage equality:
Look, I believe that every person in this world has the right to profess the beliefs they have and I am in agreement. We have to respect what each human being decides to do with their lives, you know? Clearly, there are limitations, of course, also, as there are with heterosexual couples, right? Better said, there are limitations for any of the two – if they are heterosexual or homosexual – but I believe we have to learn to be respectful because they are people who are the same as us. There is no difference. And I don’t believe it’s just to discriminate somebody based on the gender they prefer, right? Based on the partner they choose to select, if it’s a man or a woman. The truth is that I am absolutely against discrimination and, well, what can I say. I have many friends who are homosexual and I adore them. And they are equal folk: There is no reason we should want to set them aside, there is no reason why we shouldn’t let them enjoy what they want to enjoy with their partner.
Though Navarrete is not an official spokesperson for her country (nor can any one person ever be expected to speak on behalf of an entire nation), her statement does reflect Mexico’s progressive views on LGBT rights. Over the past decade, Mexico has made steady advances in securing rights for LGBT people; in 2010 alone, Mexico City legalized marriage equality and Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that all states must recognize marriages performed in the capital.
The Miss Universe Organization prides itself on encouraging the growth of young women “as individuals, who compete with hope of advancing their careers, personal and humanitarian goals, and as women who seek to improve the lives of others.” There are many good reasons to oppose beauty pageants, but I do think the Miss Universe Organization’s stated goal is an admirable one. Moreover, I think Navarrete’s statement on marriage equality is a great example of that goal fulfilled. For better or worse, beauty pageant winners are role models for young girls, and the fact that the current Miss Universe is a supporter of LGBT equality will send the message that all people — regardless of sexual or gender identity — deserve equal rights. I hope Navarrete continues to use her platform to support LGBT rights and equality for all in general.