Published On: Tue, Apr 24th, 2018

Former Miss America Deidre Downs Gunn marries same-sex partner in Alabama wedding


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Former Miss America Deidre Downs Gunn marries same-sex partner in Alabama wedding

Former Miss America Deidre Downs Gunn marries same-sex partner in Alabama wedding

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A former Miss America pageant winner has married her same-sex partner in a Southern-style ceremony in her native Alabama.

Deidre Downs Gunn, who was crowned Miss America in 2005 and is now a doctor, walked down the aisle with her spouse, attorney Abbott Jones, at the Birmingham Museum of Art, People magazine reported.

“Saying our vows in front of our family and friends and making that commitment to the love of my life was the most meaningful part of the day for me,” Downs Gunn, 37, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, told People.

Downs Gunn’s 8-year-old son, Jack, gave his mother away and acted as best man, People said. Downs Gunn married Andrew Gunn in 2008 but later divorced.

“I feel overjoyed to have found someone to share life’s adventures,” Downs Gunn told the magazine. “The wedding was beautiful and special, but it was really just the beginning of our life together. I’m so lucky to have a wife who fills even small, everyday moments with great joy.”

After the wedding ceremony, about 200 guests tucked into Southern foods such as mini chicken and waffles, fried okra, fried green tomatoes and buttermilk biscuits. The next day, the newlyweds flew out from Atlanta for a honeymoon in Ireland, the Associated Press reports.

The ceremony was officiated by an openly lesbian minister, the Rev. Jennifer Sanders, pastor of Beloved Community Church in Birmingham, according to the AP. “It was a beautiful wedding,” Sanders said. “They are a wonderful, happy couple. It was a joy to perform the ceremony.”

The guests were sworn to secrecy after the April 14 event, with People having an exclusive agreement to share the news.

“When we turned to recess down the aisle after the ceremony and really took notice of all of the family and friends who had gathered to celebrate our marriage, we felt so blessed to be surrounded by so much love and support,” they wrote in a joint statement provided to AL.com.

In a separate statement, Abbott told the website that “Deidre is the most beautiful person I’ve ever met, both inside and out. I have no doubt she will continue to be a role model to so many, especially to young women who can look to her and see that regardless of who they love, they can be beautiful, intelligent, and confident in their own skin.”

Downs Gunn told People she met Jones online in early 2017 and then met for drinks and sushi. Downs Gunn proposed on Christmas, getting down on one knee and presenting Jones with an engagement ring, the magazine reported. Jones then offered her own proposal after asking Downs Gunn’s son for permission. He said it was “cool.”

Downs Gunn captured the 2004 Miss Alabama crown in 2004 before participating in the 2005 Miss America pageant. Included in her presentation was a performance of “I’m Afraid This Must be Love.”

“It was surreal to stand on stage, on national television, and have my name called as Miss America and to walk the runway as they played, ‘There She Is, Miss America.'” Downs Gunn told AL.com in 2014. “It is still surreal.”

The Miss America Organization tweeted its congratulations, saying it wished the couple “all the happiness in the world!”

And TV host Gretchen Carlson, now chairperson on the Miss America board of directors as well as being the 1989 winner of the pageant, also sent her best wishes.

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