Brenda Sue Fulton

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Brenda S. Fulton, right, addresses audience members as part of a panel with, from left, panel moderator U.S. Navy Capt. Jane Campbell, the director of press operations for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs; Gordon O. Tanner, the principal deputy general counsel for the Air Force; and Marine Corps Capt. Matthew Phelps during a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month event in the auditorium at the Pentagon June 26, 2012. The panelists gave their perspectives on their lives and careers in the years before the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Brenda S. "Sue" Fulton is a 1980 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, a member of the Academy's first class to admit women.[1] She commissioned in the Army as a signal officer, serving as both a platoon leader and company commander in Germany before receiving an honorable discharge at the rank of Captain.

During her ensuing years in the private sector, Fulton worked briefly with the Campaign for Military Service (later SLDN), supporting Bill Clinton's efforts to overturn the ban on gay service. These efforts failed, leading to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.[2]

After the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009, Fulton served as a founding board member of Knights Out, an organization of LGBT West Point graduates, and later OutServe, the association of actively-serving LGBT military members. In those roles, she advocated for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and worked closely with the Pentagon on implementation of the repeal. She is still active in Knights Out, and currently serves as President of SPARTA, an LGBT military group advocating for transgender military service.

Fulton was among the more than 75 USMA women alumni who attended the first Ranger School graduation to include women, calling the moment as important as her classmates' own graduation from West Point.[3][4]

In 2011, President Obama appointed Fulton to the West Point Board of Visitors, making her the first openly gay person to serve as a board member in its history.[5] She spoke as part of a three-person panel at the first-ever LGBT pride event held at the Pentagon, where she discussed her experiences in the Army and at West Point.[6]

In 2013, Fulton openly challenged Academy leadership on its handling of cadet misconduct, specifically related to sexual harassment and assault.[7] Her tenure has been marked by increased diversity in entering classes, with higher percentages of African-American, Latino, and women cadets.

In 2012, Fulton and Penelope Dara Gnesin became the first couple to be married in a same-sex marriage at the U.S. Military Academy's Cadet Chapel at West Point (not to be confused with the Old Cadet Chapel).[8][9] They currently live in Asbury Park, NJ.

In 2015, Fulton was elected chairperson of the Board of Visitors at West Point, making her the first woman graduate to hold that position.[10][11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "First female West Point graduate reflects on historic anniversary". CBS News. May 28, 2015. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Sue Fulton makes history at the U.S. Military Academy". Windy City Times. September 14, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Two West Point graduates become first female soldiers to earn Ranger tab". Ledger-Enquirer. August 17, 2015. Retrieved January 10, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Band of Sisters: West Point alumni watch Ranger grads open doors for female soldiers". Ledger-Enquirer. August 22, 2015. Retrieved January 10, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Brenda 'Sue' Fulton, Openly Gay Veteran, Named To West Point Advisory Board". The Huffington Post. July 6, 2011. Retrieved June 24, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Pentagon Holds First Gay Pride Event". Military.com. June 27, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Obama Appointee To Board Of West Point Slams Military Academy On Latest Sex Scandal". The New Civil Rights Movement. June 20, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2016. 
  8. ^ "West Point chapel hosts its first same-sex wedding". Boston Globe. Associated Press. 2 December 2012. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  9. ^ Singer, Paul. "Lifestyles". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  10. ^ "West Point Board of Visitors gets an 1980 grad as leader". Washington Times. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  11. ^ "First female chair named of West Point's Board of Visitors - News - recordonline.com - Middletown, NY". M.recordonline.com. 2015-03-26. Retrieved 2015-03-30.