BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — A West Point graduate and her female partner became the first same-sex couple to tie the knot in the US Military Academy's Cadet Chapel at West Point Dec 1, USA Today reports.
Veteran Brenda Sue Fulton and Penelope Gnesin, who have been together 17 years, exchanged vows in a ceremony conducted by a friend, senior Army chaplain Colonel J Wesley Smith, of Dover Air Force Base. Fulton was told that none of the chaplains who preside at the chapel came from a denomination that would allow them to celebrate a gay marriage, the report notes.
The couple's ceremony occurs just over a year after American President Barack Obama ended the Don't Ask, Don't Tell military policy that banned openly gay people from serving. Obama had appointed Fulton, 53, to the West Point Board of Visitors last year, making her the first openly gay member of the board that advises the academy, USA Today says.
Fulton said she was getting married at West Point because it has been "an important part" of her life, but also because she could not get married in New Jersey, her home state, whose governor, Chris Christie, had vetoed a gay marriage bill earlier this year.
Gnesin, 52, is a Rutgers University graduate and is the director of Giving Voice, the women’s choir at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Monmouth County in Lincroft, New Jersey.
"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," Zeke Stokes, spokesman for OutServe, told USA Today. Fulton is a co-founder of OutServe, an organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service members and veterans.
The ceremony is the second gay marriage the West Point campus has hosted. The first, involving two of Fulton's friends, was a private ceremony held in another venue on the campus.
Landing image: Amanda Fulton photo