When Penelope Gnesin and Brenda Sue Fulton were married Saturday in front of 250 of their family and friends, they were a first. No, they were not the first gay or lesbian couple to say their vows, it was, nevertheless, a historical occasion. Fulton is a West Point graduate, and was granted permission to hold the ceremony in Cadet Chapel, the landmark Gothic church that is the center for spiritual life at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. This made them the first same-sex couple to be married there.
They have been together for 17 years and live in New Jersey which does not allow same-sex marriage. Last year when New York voters approved ‘marriage equality’, they couldn’t wait any longer.
This was the second same-sex marriage at West Point. With the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, a young lieutenant and her partner were married at the Old Cadet Chapel in West Point’s cemetery.
Fulton graduated in 1980, the first class to include women. She served in Germany, attaining the rank of captain, but eventually left the military in 1986 to allow herself the chance to be open about her sexuality. She was an vocal opponent to the ban on gays in the military and was forefront in efforts to abolish it. She has since been involved with efforts to obtain marriage equality for all, assisting present and former members of the military.