Racy photos of Miss California Carrie Prejean have popped up on the Internet -- and she says it's an attempt to humiliate her because of her anti-gay marriage views.
"On April 19, I chose to answer a question during the 2009 Miss USA pageant in an honest and personal manner that expressed my views of the long-established definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman," Prejean, 21, said in a statement Tuesday. "Yet my comments defending traditional marriage have led to intimidation tactics that seek to undermine my reputation and somehow silence me and my beliefs, as if opinion is only a one-way street."
One leaked shot shows Prejean wearing nothing but undies and covering her breast. Prejean insisted the pics are just modeling shots.
"I am a Christian, and I am a model," she said. "Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos."
She added that the shots, taken of her as a teengaer, were "released surreptitiously to a tabloid Web site that openly mocks me for my Christian faith."
"I am not perfect, and I will never claim to be," she went on. "But these attacks on me and others who speak in defense of traditional marriage are intolerant and offensive. While we may not agree on every issue, we should show respect for others' opinions and not try to silence them through vicious and mean-spirited attacks."
Despite the controversy, she said she "will continue to support and defend marriage as the honorable institution it is. I will continue to stand with the overwhelming majority of the American people and the voters of my home state of California."
"If this whole experience has taught me anything," she concluded, "it is our precious right to speak freely, and how we as Americans can never allow anyone or any group to intimidate or threaten us to keep silent."
It remains to be seen whether the shots could affect her status as a spokeswoman for conservative causes or her future involvement with the Miss California pageant. (In 1984, Vanessa Williams had to resign her Miss America crown after revealing photos she had posed for in 1982 were leaked to reporters.)