It's on! Miss California to fight gay marriage

Carrie Prejean

is ready for battle.

The Miss USA runner-up who caused controversy by voicing her opposition to same-sex marriage during the pageant has joined forces with an anti-gay-marriage group.

She helped launch a new campaign in Washington, D.C. today for the anti-gay-marriage group called National Organization for Marriage - the group responsible for the much-parodied "Gathering Storm" ad.

"I'm here to protect traditional marriage," Prejean said on the "Today" show of her partnership with NOM.

"I was attacked for giving my own opinion onstage at a Miss USA contest. I'm gonna do whatever it takes to protect marriage. It is something that is very dear to my heart and I'm just here to protect it, that's all I'm here to do."

The news didn't sit well with organizers of the Miss California pageant. Co-director

Keith Lewis

issued a statement that made clear their disapproval.

"In the entire history of Miss USA, no reigning titleholder has so readily committed her face and voice to a more divisive or polarizing issue," Lewis said.

"We are deeply saddened Carrie Prejean has forgotten her platform of the Special Olympics, her commitment to all Californians, and solidified her legacy as one that goes beyond the right to voice her beliefs—revealing instead a much more opportunistic agenda."


Shanna Moakler

, a onetime Miss California herself and outspoken executive director of the state's pageant, said that if Prejean wants to speak out on the topic, she should give up her crown first.

Moakler this week made a print ad opposing the gay-marriage-banning Proposition 8 in California. She also went on Access Hollywood and dissed about Prejean, saying that the pageant organization paid for Prejean's breast augmentation.

"She wants to go and tell her story around the country and I think that's fantastic," Moakler said. "I think that's great if that's what she wants to do, and if she wants to do that, then she should release herself as Miss California USA.

"Give it to another girl who wants those responsibilities and that title and she can go tell her story. We will celebrate that and we'll support her on that."