Former Miss California Carrie Prejean has filed a lawsuit against the operators and producers of the Miss California USA pageant, claiming religious discrimination and defamation.
Prejean, the runner-up in this year's Miss USA pageant after famously declaring her opposition to gay marriage in response to an onstage question, was fired from her job as the reigning Miss California in June, allegedly because she missed out on several required appearances.
But according to FOX news, the suit filed this week by Carrie Prejean's attorney Charles LiMandri claims that Prejean made all the appearances that were required of her, and that she was in fact fired because of her gay-marriage response, which she characterizes as a statement of her religious belief. Discrimination in employment on the basis of religious belief is, of course, illegal.
For good measure, the suit alleges that the defendants -- pageant co-directors Shanna Moakler and Keith Lewis, and publicist Roger Neal -- engaged in a conspiracy to defame and ultimately fire her after she repeated her anti-gay-marriage stance on the Today show. That conspiracy allegedly involved the assistance of online gossip columnist and Miss USA judge Perez Hilton. Prejean also alleges that she was specifically asked not to mention God in the Miss USA applications or during the pageant.
Not surprisingly, attorneys for at least one defendant were not worried. Shanna Moakler's attorney Mel Avanzado was quick to characterize the suit as meritless, and added a quick summation of his planned defense to any allegation of defamation or libel: "As everyone who watched or read her public statements is well aware, Ms. Prejean's unfortunate and bigoted statements are responsible for any public humiliation or damages to her reputation that she has claimed to have suffered."
That will indeed prove problematic for Prejean. Defamation claims require plaintiffs to prove that their reputation was harmed, and Carrie Prejean will probably struggle to prove that any harm to her reputation wasn't simply the result of the clear statement she made on two different national television broadcasts.