May 13, 2009 / 8:22 PM / 10 years ago

Pageant chief resigns after Prejean keeps crown

Miss California USA Carrie Prejean (R) and Shanna Moakler, co-executive director of the Miss California USA pageant (L), listen to Donald Trump, the owner of the Miss Universe Organization, announce during a news conference that Prejean would retain her title in New York May 12, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The co-director of the Miss California USA beauty pageant resigned on Wednesday in protest over Carrie Prejean being allowed to keep her crown despite a furor over topless photos and anti-gay marriage views.

Shanna Moakler’s decision came the day after Miss USA and Miss Universe pageant owner Donald Trump ended weeks of speculation over the future of Prejean, the current Miss California, saying she could retain her title — and her opinions.

Moakler, a former Miss USA title holder and a supporter of gay marriage, said in a statement she “cannot with a clear conscious 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.”

The Miss California story has been a talking point across the United States at a time of heated debate over same-sex marriages which have recently been legalized in five states.

Prejean, 21, made headline news last month at the Miss USA pageant when she expressed her opposition to gay marriage in answer to a question from gay judge and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. She claimed her answer cost her the Miss USA title.

Prejean has since appeared in an anti-gay marriage ad and several pictures of her posing topless have since surfaced. She failed to disclose the pictures in the contract she signed with the pageant, officials said.

Trump praised Prejean for her beauty and standing by her opinion, and he judged the topless photos as acceptable for her to continue her reign. “If her beauty wasn’t so great no one really would have cared,” he said on Tuesday.

Moakler, 34, who won the Miss USA title in 1995 and later went on to pose for Playboy magazine, said she had made her decision after the Trump news conference.

California banned gay weddings in a divisive November referendum that reversed an earlier court ruling which had allowed hundreds of same-sex couples to wed last year.

Editing by Jackie Frank

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