Miss Beverly Hills and upcoming Miss California contender Lauren Ashley spoke out to Pop Tarts earlier this week against gay marriage -- and as a result she has been publicly condemned by the City of Beverly Hills.
"The City of Beverly Hills today denounced statements made by Miss California USA contestant Lauren Ashley, the self-described Miss Beverly Hills. Ms. Ashley resides in Pasadena and is currently a contestant for the Miss California USA title. She does not represent Beverly Hills in any capacity," the city said in a news release issued Wednesday. "The City of Beverly Hills strongly condemns Ms. Ashley's recent statements and has contacted pageant officials to determine ways to formally prevent any beauty contestants claiming the title of Miss Beverly Hills in the future."
A representative from the City Council told Pop Tarts that the mayor and the entire council were very upset by Ashley's comments and the council will decide whether or not to take the issue up with the Miss Universe Organization, co-owned by Donald Trump and NBC.
State pageant director Keith Lewis said all applicants are interviewed by a representative from the organization and if successful they can then choose what city they wish to represent in the quest for the Miss California title. But despite the Beverly Hills City Council's desire to have the pageant structure changed, Lewis said, "the incident has no bearing on Miss California USA or the way the pageant will be conducted in the future."
"I would love for the City of Beverly Hills to have their own preliminary pageant to determine a representative," Lewis added. "But until then, this is the way Miss Universe runs it and this is how it is done in other states."
A spokesperson for Trump and the Miss Universe Organization was not immediately available for comment.
But despite the controversy -- and all he endured last year during the Carrie Prejean saga -- Lewis stands by Ashley's right to exercise her personal opinion.
"I believe in the rights of the individual and their personal beliefs, and I believe in tolerance and respect for all sides of the issues," Lewis said on Wednesday. "I hope Beverly Hills exercises the same inclusion."
And while the City of Beverly Hills is shunning the pageant princess, she has garnered strong support from the National Organization for Marriage.
"I'm not surprised that Miss Beverly Hills, Lauren Ashley, opposes gay marriage -- after all 45 percent of young Californians voted for Prop 8, as did 7 million Californians generally," the organization's president, Maggie Gallagher, told us. "But I have to say, I am impressed with her courage in coming forward and for speaking up for Carrie. The elected officials of city of Beverly Hills are not demonstrating tolerance or kindness by continuing the avalanche of hatred against supporters of Prop 8."
Ashley originally told us she was against gay marriage and quoted the Bible's Old Testament as saying, "If man lies with mankind as he would lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death and their blood shall be upon them."
However the media storm that ensued interpreted her words with headlines such as "Miss Beverly Hills Wants Gays Put to Death" and "God Wants Gays Dead, Says Beauty Queen."
The 23-year-old titleholder declined to comment any further or respond to the city's press release, but insisted she was "doing fine" in spite of the backlash.