Brenda Sue Fulton, a West Point graduate, got married at the U.S. Military Academy's Cadet Chapel at West Point this past Saturday.
Not such a big deal really, as many cadets, and graduates from West Point marry in the building, but Brenda Fulton married her partner of seventeen years, Penelope Gnesin in the chapel, marking the first same-sex marriage ceremony to be performed in the Cadet Chapel; their wedding was the second same-sex marriage West Point has hosted, with the first being held the previous weekend at a smaller venue on the campus.
The times, oh, have they changed, y'all.
Gnesin and Fulton had a civil commitment ceremony back in 1999, but, like a lot of same-sex couples they wanted marriage. They'd hoped to be married in their home state of New Jersey, but same-sex marriage isn't legal there, yet, so they chose West Point.
"We just couldn't wait any longer," Fulton said.
Fulton called the Cadet Chapel a fitting venue: "It has a tremendous history, and it is beautiful. That's where I first heard and said the cadet prayer."
When Fulton requested the West Point chapel, she was told that none of the chaplains who preside there come from a denomination that allowed them to celebrate a gay marriage, so the Fulton-Gnesin nuptials were officiated by a friend, Army Chaplain Col. J. Wesley Smith.
Fulton, a veteran and the communications director of OutServe--which represents actively serving gay, lesbian and bisexual military personnel--was named to the West Point Board of Visitors by president Obama in July, 2011, 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, an organization of West Point Alumni, Staff and Faculty who are united in supporting the rights of LGBT soldiers to openly serve their country.
Fulton wanted to marry at West Point because it "has been an important part of my life," but also because Republican Governor 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 aid, "but we didn't want to wait any longer," particularly because Gnesin is a breast cancer survivor and suffers from multiple sclerosis.
yes, the times are changing. and yes, there is still work to be done. one day, hopefully soon, New Jersey will be home top marriage equality, and one day, hopefully soon, more chaplains will be allowed to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies.
Still, for a long time, Brenda Fulton, and most LGBT Americans, never thought a military institution would be the site of a same-sex wedding, and that's really good news.