Published April 30, 2009
Miss California Carrie Prejean announced Thursday that she will help to launch a campaign opposing same sex marriage.
She told NBC's "Today" show that she'll be working with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to "protect traditional marriages."
The 21-year-old says that marriage is "something that is very dear to my heart" and she's in Washington to help save it.
She says many people have thanked her for standing up for traditional marriage.
Prejean was named the first runner-up to Miss North Carolina in the Miss USA pageant April 19.
Her response to celebrity blogger Perez Hilton's question about legalizing same-sex marriage caused a firestorm.
When asked by pageant judge Hilton — who is openly homosexual — whether she believed in gay marriage, Prejean said, "We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think 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 out there, but that's how I was raised.”
Many have argued that the answer cost Prejean the crown. In addition, she has also faced intense criticism in liberal-leaning Hollywood – being labeled everything from a “dumb [expletive]” to an ignorant disgrace.
But many have also offered overwhelming support to Prejean as well.
According to the owner of the Miss Universe franchise, Donald Trump, Prejean did a “wonderful job” answering a question that he termed as “a bit unlucky,” arguing that regardless of how she answered, she “was going to get killed.”
In addition, her state pageant co-chair Keith Lewis, who denounced Prejean immediately after the competition, has since softened his stance.
"I am proud of Carrie Prejean’s beauty and placement at the 2009 Miss USA Pageant. I support Carrie’s right to express her personal beliefs, even if they do not coincide with my own," Lewis said in a statement on Tuesday. "I believe the subject of gay marriage deserves a great deal more conversation in order to heal the divide it has created."
Prior to teaming up with Prejean, NOM released several anti same sex union ads, most recently with “The Gathering Storm” ad, which was parodied by several Hollywood celebrities including Alicia Silverstone, Sophia Bush and George Takei.
Representatives for NOM responded to the ad last week, telling FOXNews.com:
"While I haven't seen this particular parody, I have seen and enjoyed others; it’s important not to take yourself so seriously you can't take a good joke, and we appreciate how the controversy has helped spread our message." said Maggie Gallagher, President of the National Organization for Marriage.
"On a more serious note: the vitriolic response by [those] mischaracterizing the millions of people who have these concerns expressed in our ad as ‘liars and bigots’ only tends to confirm our main message: same-sex marriage is not about tolerance, it’s about using the power of law to impose a new morality on an unwilling American people."
FOXNews.com's Hollie McKay and the Associated Press contributed to this report.