Shanna Moakler, former Miss USA and current co-executive director of the Miss California pageant has made it very clear how "hurt and upset" she was when her candidate Carrie Prejean voiced that she believed "marriage should be between a man and a woman" at the Miss USA pageant last weekend.
But this time it is Moakler who is standing up for what she believes in – the right for gay and lesbian couples to marry. Pop Tarts was exclusively on-set in North Hollywood on Tuesday evening as the reality starlet and the co-executive state pageant director Keith Lewis brought together Miss California and Miss USA 2006 first runner-up Tamiko Nash and last year’s Miss California Raquel Beezley to shoot a NO H8 Campaign in the hope of raising awareness and eventually having Proposition 8 over-turned in California.
The campaign was started in November last year by photographer Adam Bouska and so far almost 400 people have shot the trademark image of an individual on a white backdrop with duct tape over their mouth. (But of course when it is three former sash sisters under the lights and camera, three sparkling tiaras are also a necessity).
"It’s important for us right now to participate in this, especially given the conversation surrounding Miss California. We’re here showing we’re a family, we agree to disagree and support our beliefs," Lewis told Tarts, as Moakler (who was in the make-up chair) nodded in agreement. "It’s been a difficult time but we want to show that there are a lot of different families, I was raised by a single mom, and I am dad to two children that are being raised by two moms. Can’t we all just love each other and get along and celebrate the fact that people are able to find true love?"
But contact with Carrie Prejean since the now infamous incident went down is still questionable.
"We are working through it; we’re a family in resolution. We really want to give Carrie an opportunity to express her beliefs, the Miss California system is about empowering women to be strong and independent and stand up for whatever they believe in," Lewis said. "So as soon as Carrie is done explaining her beliefs we really look forward to her coming back to our platform. I’m proud that she was able to stand there and utter whatever it was that came out of her mouth. I’m a 45-year-old man and I don’t think I could explain myself to millions of people."
However the pageant controversy has made Lewis learn even more about his own convictions too.
"I was raised Christian and I struggled with it my whole life, I think a lot of people struggle with the Bible and homosexuality," he added. "But the Bible I have now come to know is an amazing historical document that was written in a time by people who had a different understanding of what our world was. We live in a world that’s very different at this point, our understanding is very different."
1997’s Miss Hawaii-turned Miss USA-turned Miss Universe, Brook Lee, also shot for the ad and took on a "Prejean Pageant" inspired theme by donning a white evening gown and sash that said "Miss Equality."
"Being a former Miss Universe I was at Miss USA last week, I was there when everything went down and experienced the blow-back afterwards. People were really shaken up," Lee told Tarts. "When I came back to L.A. it was prevalent in everyone’s mind and I wanted to do this campaign because a visual image lasts so much longer than words. I also brought my two-year-son to do it, activism stars early. My husband was here with us and he shot too."
And although the stunning pageant princess acknowledged that "everyone is entitled to their own opinion", she believes Carrie definitely did not deserve the coveted crown of Miss USA.
"The judges I spoke to said they applaud her for being so vocal, but she didn’t answer the question, she wasn’t consistent. They didn’t mark her down because they are some liberal majority and were trying to punish her for her Christian values," she explained. "But for her to go in the press and say she lost the crown because of her answer is playing with the truth. I heard she’s saying she wants to run for office now? Maybe she’ll team up with Palin."
Even "The Amazing Race" winner Reichen Lehmkuhl stopped by the studio to be snapped.
"We feel Proposition 8 takes away the equal rights for an entire group of people who are tax-payers and important people in society and one of those people happens to be me," he said. "I am here to support against a campaign that I feel is a campaign of hate. We just want equal rights; we don’t think we’re morally superior."