A little more than a year after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Penelope Gnesin and Brenda Sue Fulton were married in the first same-sex wedding held at the US Military Academy’s Cadet Chapel at West Point on Saturday.
According to USA Today, Gnesin and Fulton’s was the second gay wedding to be held at West Point; the first was between two of Fulton’s friends in a private ceremony last week in a smaller venue on the campus.
Together for 17 years, Gnesin and Fulton had a civil commitment ceremony in 1999 but had hoped to marry in their home state of New Jersey. Back in February, however, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a gay marriage bill and according to Fulton, they “just couldn’t wait any longer.”
A major reason for their haste was Gnesin, 52, a breast cancer survivor who suffers from multiple sclerosis. She and Fulton decided to hold the wedding at West Point because the academy has been such an important part of Fulton’s life.
Fulton, 53, became the first openly gay member to West Point Board of Visitors when President Obama appointed her in 2011, but before that she was part of West Point’s first graduating class to include women in 1980. She is currently the communications director of OutServe, an organization which represents actively serving LGBT military personnel.
When she originally requested the West Point Chapel, Fulton was told that none of the presiding chaplains came from a denomination that allowed them to celebrate a same-sex wedding, so the ceremony was officiated by a friend, Army Chaplain Col. J. Wesley Smith of Dover Air Force Base.
Though they are happy to finally tie the knot, for Gnesin and Fulton, their wedding was a bittersweet occasion.
“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.”
Meanwhile, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has already weighed in, tweeting: “Military breaks the law, allows homosexual ‘wedding’ at West Point. So much for honoring their oath.”
And that’s exactly why you weren’t invited, Bryan Fischer. That and what you would consider the idea of a gift. Pretty sure eternal hellfire not on the registry.
Photo: Jeff Seng/Twitter via USA Today