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December 01, 2012

Joyous historic events: first same-sex weddings at West Point

Posted in: LGBT,marriage equality

Today, Sue Fulton and Penny Gneslin, became the first LGBT couple to marry in the U.S. Military Academy Cadet Chapel at West Point, now that marriage equality is in place in New York.  (Photos by Jeff Sheng). (Outserve Mag):

“West Point holds special significance to both me and Penny,” said Sue, a 1980 graduate and presidential appointee to its Board of Visitors. “From the time I was a cadet, what West Point stands for – integrity, leadership, selfless service – have been my touchstones. When Penny and I worked on ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ we kept coming back to the core value of integrity, and that’s what made a difference. To be able to legalize our union here, especially at the Cadet Chapel, is really important to us.”

The two pioneers in LGBT military rights had planned to marry in their home state of New Jersey when their state assembly passed a marriage equality bill, however, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the measure, forcing the couple to rethink plans.

…“I just didn’t want to wait any longer,” said Sue, who proposed over the summer. The couple had held a commitment ceremony in 1999, though it held no legal significance. “I still hope that our home state will recognize marriage equality, but Penny—as strong as she is—is a breast cancer survivor, and has been dealing with Multiple Sclerosis for more than ten years. We cannot wait for a governor who thinks everyone should get to vote on whether, after 17 years together, we are really married.”

The couple goes through the saber arch — according to David Small’s report at Outserve magazing, it was provided by members of OutServe, Knights Out, USMA’s Spectrum, and one straight ally. Four Army lieutenants and four West Point Cadets formed the arch:

Sue and Penny were actually not the first same-sex couple to wed at West Point; that wonderful event occurred on Saturday, Nov 24. 1st. Lieut. Ellen Schick married Shannon Simpson at the Old Cadet Chapel:

Nov. 24, after three years together, Army 1st Lt Ellen Schick, who works at Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point, married Shannon Simpson in an intimate ceremony with a handful of close friends and relatives at West Point’s older, original cadet chapel, built in 1836. The two Pennsylvania natives were unaware of their status as the first gay couple to marry at West Point until they connected with Sue.

“Ellen is very proud to serve her country and wanted a Military wedding,” Shannon told OutServe Magazine. “We felt that we should be allowed the same opportunity to marry on a military post as any heterosexual military couple.”

Congratulations to the happy couples!

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