In a strongly worded statement relased late Wednesday, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin defended Miss California Carrie Prejean and ripped into "the liberal onslaught of malicious attacks" against Prejean for her response to a question about gay marriage.
"I can relate as a liberal target myself," Palin said. "What I find so remarkable is that these politically-motivated attacks fail to show that what Carrie and I believe is also what President Obama and Secretary Clinton believe — marriage is between a man and a woman."
Prejean created a stir with her response to a question about gay marriage at last month's Miss USA pageant, questions about her work with gay marriage opponents and nearly nude photos taken of her when she was a teenager put her title in jeopardy.
"I applaud Donald Trump for standing with Carrie during this time. And I respect Carrie for standing strong and staying true to herself, and for not letting those who disagree with her deny her protection under the nation's First Amendment Rights," the former vice presidential candidate said.
"Our Constitution protects us all — not just those who agree with the far left," Palin said.
On Wednesday, former Miss USA Shanna Moakler resigned as co-executive director of the Miss California USA pageant, saying she no longer believes in the organization because of pageant owner Donald Trump's decision to let the state's controversial title holder keep her crown.
At a news conference, Moakler angrily accused Prejean of violating the contract she signed with pageant organizers, but Trump announced Tuesday that Prejean would keep her title.
Moakler, the Miss USA of 1995, said she decided after Trump's news conference to quit.
"I cannot with a clear conscience move forward supporting and promoting the Miss Universe Organization when I no longer believe in it or the contracts I signed committing myself as a youth," she said in a statement issued by her publicist. "I want to be a role model for young women with high hopes of pageantry, but now feel it more important to be a role model for my children."
Trump's senior executive assistant, Rhona Graff-Ricci, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prejean, the first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant, created a brouhaha when she responded to a question by celebrity judge Perez Hilton by saying, "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."
After gay rights advocates took her to task, California pageant officials said Prejean asked for permission to elaborate on her answer and they agreed. But then, they said, she began speaking without their permission in front of crowds opposed to gay marriage, including her San Diego church and the National Organization for Marriage.
Keith Lewis, the state pageant's co-executive director, said Prejean also began missing Miss California events she was contractually obligated to attend.
Trump on Tuesday said there had been miscommunication among Prejean, pageant organizers and the outside groups, but added that "the communication problem, I believe, is totally solved."
Trump defended Prejean's statements that marriage should be exclusive to men and women, saying her position was similar to President Barack Obama's.
Photos of Prejean in her underwear, taken when she was 17, emerged after the Miss USA pageant.
Moakler said Monday that pageant officials were not as unhappy with what the photos of Prejean showed as they were with the fact she didn't disclose their existence, as the contract she signed required.
Trump, however, while acknowledging the photos were "risque," said he didn't think they were bad enough to get her booted.
Lewis said Wednesday he was saddened by Moakler's resignation but "would always respect the convictions that brought her to this place."
Prejean spokeswoman Melany Ethridge said Prejean, who turned 22 on Wednesday, was traveling and hadn't had a chance to speak with pageant officials since Moakler's resignation.
Moakler, an actress and model, posed nude for Playboy magazine but not until several years after she was Miss USA. The December 2001 Playmate of the Month said in her Playboy bio that her turnoffs include, "People who lie, cheat and are dishonest."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.