Former Miss California USA Carrie Prejean has sued beauty pageant organizers claiming she was wrongfully fired for saying marriage should be only between a man and a woman, her lawyer said on Monday.
Two months after her controversial statement at the Miss USA pageant in April, organizers fired Prejean saying she broke her contract by failing to make appearances on their behalf.
Prejean's attorney Charles LiMandri said pageant officials based their decision to terminate her contract on invitations Prejean received for events she was never required to attend.
There was a strained relationship, and it became that way when she gave that answer and would not back off of it. That's what this is really all about, LiMandri told Reuters.
Prejean, 22, made headlines worldwide when she said she believed only men and women should be allowed to wed in reply to a question by a gay celebrity blogger and pageant judge. She subsequently was named first runner-up. In the weeks that followed, she claimed the answer cost her the Miss USA crown.
Her answer came as political leaders across the United States were considering whether to adopt or ban gay marriage, and she became a lightning rod of attention on the topic.
Prejean drew support from gay marriage opponents, and she angered those who backed same-sex weddings.
She agreed to appear in advertisements opposing state laws allowing same-sex couples to wed, and she became a fill-in host for television program Fox & Friends, generally considered a conservative show on the Fox News Channel.
Topless photos of Prejean appeared on the Internet and word spread that the pageant helped her pay for breast implants.
Pageant organizers initially retained Prejean, but in June they fired her claiming she had violated her contract by not making appearances on their behalf.
Prejean's lawsuit was filed in a Los Angeles Superior Court. LiMandri said she is seeking damages of an undetermined amount. Celebrity businessman and TV personality Donald Trump, who owns the Miss USA pageant with which Miss California USA is associated, was not named in the lawsuit.
Roger Neal, a spokesman for pageant organizers declined immediate comment.