UPDATED October 2013: Since Sue & Penny shared their story with Freedom to Marry, same-sex couples in New Jersey won the freedom to marry when a judge in NJ ruled in favor of marriage in October 2013.
On December 1, 2012, Penelope Gnesin and Brenda Sue Fulton became the first same-sex couple to marry at Cadet Chapel, a landmark chapel at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Fulton is a graduate from West Point, and she and Gnesin have been together for seventeen years. The women had previously hosted a civil commitment ceremony in 1999.
Stars and Stripes, a military news blog, reported:
The brides both 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 told The Associated Press in a phone interview Saturday.
Cadet Chapel was a more-than-adequate second choice, she said.
"It has a tremendous history, and it is beautiful. That's where I first heard and said the cadet prayer," Fulton said, referring to the invocation that says, "Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won."
The couple is now working with New Jersey United for Marriage to win the freedom to marry in their home state. The couple, who lives in Asbury Park, have been together for over 18 years - and they're beyond ready for their commitment to be respected where they live.
Penny and Sue love New Jersey, and as a married couple, they shouldn’t have to move to have equal protection under the law. It’s time for New Jersey legislators to act and override Gov. Christie's veto so that Sue and Penny - and thousands of other families in New Jersey - can access the dignity and respect they deserve.
Photos by Jeff Sheng