When Deidre Downs was crowned Miss America more than a decade ago, the idea of legalized gay marriage and Miss America later marrying her same-sex partner in Alabama would have been an unimaginable future.
Former Miss Alabama 2004 and Miss America 2005 Deidre Downs Gunn married her girlfriend, attorney Abbott Jones, in a ceremony Saturday at the Birmingham Museum of Art. They flew out Sunday night from Atlanta for a honeymoon in Ireland.
By Monday morning, their wedding was the talk of Alabama. About 200 people who attended were sworn to secrecy until after the event, with People magazine having an exclusive agreement to share the news.
Deidre, a UAB obstetrician-gynecologist specializing in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, and Abbott shared their joy from their honeymoon in a statement to AL.com on Monday.
“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.
Their union may have left Alabama surprised and a little stunned, but perhaps also wowed by the boldness and beauty of the ceremony.
“It was beautiful; it was gorgeous,” said Nan Teninbaum, president of the Miss Alabama Pageant, who attended the ceremony. “I love and I support Deidre. I wish her the very best of everything.”
The ceremony was officiated by an openly lesbian minister, the Rev. Jennifer Sanders, pastor of Beloved Community Church in Birmingham.