Monday, December 3, 2012


LGBT Advocacy Group OutServe's Communications Director Marries In A Historic First For Chapel At West Point

Brenda Sue Fulton and Penelope Gnesin
WEST POINT, NY -- In a historic first for the venerable chapel at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Penelope Gnesin and Brenda Sue Fulton, a West Point graduate, exchanged their wedding vows in front of family, friends and invited guests in a ceremony officiated over by Army Chaplain, Colonel J. Wesley Smith of Dover Air Force Base. 
Fulton, 53, an Army veteran and the communications director of the LGBT advocacy group OutServe — which represents actively serving gay, lesbian and bisexual military personnel was thrilled to be able to be married in the chapel on the Academy's grounds.  
"It has a tremendous history, and it is beautiful. That's where I first heard and said the cadet prayer," Fulton said. She also confirmed that the couple would be the first same-sex marriage performed in the chapel saying; "We will be the first same sex couple to wed at the Cadet Chapel at West Point."
During the ceremony, guests at the wedding posted photos on Twitter while it was under way and afterward. The wedding was the second gay marriage West Point has hosted. The first was a small, private ceremony last weekend between two of Fulton's friends in a smaller venue on the campus. 
"We are thrilled for Sue and Penny, and along with them, look forward to a day when this kind of event no longer makes headlines and all Americans enjoy the freedom to marry and the justice of those marriages being recognized," said Zeke Stokes, spokesman for OutServe.
USA Today reports:
In July 2011, President Obama named Fulton to the West Point Board of Visitors, making her the first openly gay member of the board that advises the Academy. 
She graduated from West Point in 1980, part of the first class of cadets that included women, and later founded an organization called KnightsOut, which describes itself as "an organization of West Point Alumni, Staff and Faculty who are united in supporting the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender soldiers to openly serve their country." 
Fulton said she was getting married at the academy because "West Point has been an important part of my life," but also because Republican Gov. Chris Christie in her home state of New Jersey vetoed a gay marriage bill earlier this year. 
"We had always said that we wanted to get married in New Jersey," Fulton told USA Today, but "we didn't want to wait any longer," particularly because Gnesim, 52, is a breast cancer survivor and suffers from multiple sclerosis. 
"It is wonderful for us to celebrate the recognition that New York state will give our marriage," Fulton said, but "there is also some regret that we can't get married in our home state."
After the repeal of the policy known as Don't Ask-Don't Tell in September 2011, the Defense Department issued guidance stating: [that] "determinations regarding the use of DOD real property and facilities for private functions, including religious and other ceremonies, should be made on a sexual-orientation neutral basis, provided such use is not prohibited by applicable state and local laws."
The policy change came with the stipulation that use of any military facility does not constitute an endorsement of same-sex marriage by the Pentagon.
New York's legislature approved a measure that legalised same-sex marriage in June 2011, and two months ago, the U. S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.