6:51PM EST December 1. 2012 - The U.S. Military Academy's Cadet Chapel at West Point hosted its first same-sex marriage Saturday.

Penelope Gnesin and Brenda Sue Fulton, a West Point graduate, exchanged vows in the regal church in a ceremony conducted by a senior Army chaplain.

The ceremony comes a little more than a year after President Obama ended the military policy banning openly gay people from serving.

The two have been together for 17 years. They had a civil commitment ceremony that didn't carry any legal force in 1999 but had longed to formally tie the knot.

The couple live in New Jersey and would have preferred to have the wedding there, but the state doesn't allow gay marriage.

"We just couldn't wait any longer," Fulton said.

Guests at the wedding posted photos on Twitter while it was under way and afterward. Fulton said the Cadet Chapel on the campus at West Point was a fitting venue.

"It has a tremendous history, and it is beautiful. That's where I first heard and said the cadet prayer," Fulton said.

Fulton said that when she 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. Their marriage was officiated by a friend, Army Chaplain Col. J. Wesley Smith of Dover Air Force Base.

Fulton, a veteran and the communications director of an organization called OutServe — which represents actively serving gay, lesbian and bisexual military personnel — confirmed in an e-mail to USA TODAY Friday night: "We will be the first same sex couple to wed at the Cadet Chapel at West Point."

The wedding was the second gay marriage West Point has hosted. The first was a small, private ceremony last weekend between two of Fulton's friends in a smaller venue on the campus.

Read the rest here.


I have to thank A|N's own Steve Shives and his YouTube series, "And Now the Good News" for putting me wise to this little tidbit.  Whether Penelope and Brenda Sue are atheists or not isn't the point here.  The point is that the military has gotten shut of an old and ignominious tradition of discrimination and, indeed, pulled a full 180 on it.

I think this is spectacular news ... though I long for the say when such events are so common that they aren't news at all.

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I agree whole heartedly, and look to the day when all communities can welcome same-sex couples into their congregations and communities. That day will come, probably not soon, but at least the movement is in the right directions. Thanks Loren. 

Glad for any evidence of further acceptance, even in the halls of privilege and traditional discrimination.

The hell of it is, while we have that positive, we still have the negative of religion in the military, to the point where an atheist cadet was moved to leave West Point because of the overbearing presence of religion at that academy.

The pattern continues: two steps forward, one step back.

Thanks, Loren, for this report. The author's statement bares repeating: 

"reform is necessary. There are many cadets and many academies and really all throughout the military that struggle with a climate of religiosity and lack of support for nontheistic beliefs.

"West Point’s provision of nontheist alternatives to chaplains time, their changing of the 'Crusader' motto of company C-1, and the official recognition of the West Point Secular Student Alliance (SSA) are all moves in the right direction. 

"Next steps should include equal support for trips and supplies for the SSA and an Academy (and Army) review of resiliency programs to better accommodate atheists like Blake. There must be continued progress in opening hearts and services to nontheists at all Academies and the military at-large. Failing that, we will continue to have a divided military where atheist leaders may not stay."


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