West Point Chapel Holds First Gay Wedding

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

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #americanfamilyassociation #bryanfischer #chrischristie stories and more


  • hyhybt

    I still don’t see what law he’s trying to claim they’re breaking. There is no law I’m aware of (in this country) forbidding weddings; only against recognizing them as valid. And if the chapel is only allowed to hold legally binding ceremonies, then I assume baptism and communion are out the door too.

  • Dakotahgeo

    ABSOLUTE BEST WISHES to the happy couple!!! It was bound to happen and this the 2ND couple to wed there! Poor PBJ Fischer! No laws were broken, Fundie Dingy so blow smoke elsewhere… people are giving you no mind!
    Dakotahgeo, M.Div. Pastor/Chaplain

  • 2eo

    Bryan Fischer is a [email protected] who has paid to defend child molesters, what he thinks matters not one iota. If people like him are hacked off then you are doing the morally correct thing.

  • SteveMD2

    this prob wouldnt have happened if NY state hadnt passed the marriage equality bill

    My best wishes also to the oouple

  • SteveMD2

    Here is how crazy Fischer is – from the SPLCenter.

    Why is he nuts re gays and others – he’s from Mississippi, the most backward and still racist state in America and his father was a baptist minister – the people who
    justified slavery as per the bible and banned inter-racial marriage as protecting
    the sanctity of the white race

  • SteveMD2

    More on this Fischer guy. Note the spelling is German, which suggests other parts of his beliefs that resulted in wWWII, where gays were the “unknown victims of the holocaust.

    About 45 000 from 38 thru 1943, No data ever found re 44 and 45

    Also he hates Mormons per wiki. People who hate almost everyone usually hate
    themselves. REACTION FORMATION Bryan????


  • 2eo

    @SteveMD2: He doesn’t hate mormons, he takes millions in donations off them each year. It’s a made up quote so he has something to deflect criticism.

Comments are closed.