Vanessa Minnillo, Nick Lachey Support Miss California USA

The former Miss Teen USA and her boyfriend think Carrie Prejean is entitled to free speech.

Vanessa Minnillo knows a thing or two about beauty pageants. The former "TRL" host was Miss Teen USA back in 1998, and she thinks that Miss California USA Carrie Prejean is getting a tough break for making comments on gay marriage and then for the leak of her topless photos.

"This poor girl!" Minnillo told MTV News at the party for Maxim's Hot 100 list, before her longtime beau [artist id="1237620"]Nick Lachey[/artist] cut her off to wax poetic on the controversy.

"Of course she should have kept her crown. This is what makes America America," he said. "Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and you should be able to say your opinion and not be criticized or penalized for it."

He added that people shouldn't have been so upset that Prejean told the Miss USA judging panel that she felt marriage should be between a man and a woman, because she was specifically asked what she thought. "If you don't want to know someone's opinion, don't ask the question," he said. "How is someone's opinion wrong?"

As for the topless photos that caused such a stir when they were released? Lachey has an equally positive opinion about that. "And she takes good pictures!"

On Wednesday, former Miss USA Shanna Moakler resigned from her post as Miss California Pageant Director after it was announced that Prejean would get to keep her crown. Moakler said she disagreed with the fact that Prejean got to keep her title after she didn't disclose the fact that she had taken the controversial pictures.

"Since the press conference yesterday, I had a chance to think about what has taken place, and I feel that at this time it is in my best interest to resign from the Miss California USA organization," Moakler said in a statement to MTV News. "I cannot with a clear conscience move forward supporting and promoting the Miss Universe Organization when I no longer believe in it, or the contracts I signed committing myself as a youth."