West Point Raises Swords for Same-Sex Ceremony

Check off another prediction about the consequences of LGBT law − a policy that imposes the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender agenda on America's military.  Same-sex marriages on military bases became all-but inevitable when Congress rushed to repeal the 1993 law regarding gays in the military in 2010, replacing it with LGBT law.    

On December 1, 2012, Brenda "Sue" Fulton exchanged marriage vows with her long-time partner, Penelope Dara Gnesin, in the Cadet Chapel of the U.S. Military Academy in New York.  The ceremony for Fulton and Gnesin, which followed a similar union of two lesbians on the previous weekend in West Point's cemetery chapel, ended with both "brides" (as they were called) exiting under a traditional arch of swords.

A 1980 graduate of the US Military Academy and a veteran, Fulton was a co-founder and Executive Director of an alumni group called Knights Out.  The group describes itself as "an organization of West Point Alumni, Staff and Faculty who are united in supporting the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender soldiers to openly serve their country."   Fulton also co-founded the gay activist group OutServe

President Barack Obama appointed Ms. Fulton to be a member of the USMA Board of Visitors in 2011, but none of the chaplains at the academy were authorized to preside over her ceremony.   Instead, proceedings were conducted by Col. J. Wesley Smith, a friend of Fulton's.  Col. Smith is the senior Army chaplain at Dover Air Force Base, where he presides over solemn ceremonies that receive the bodies of soldiers killed in action overseas.  

Fulton and Gnesin reside in New Jersey but chose West Point for their ceremony because it is located in a state that recognizes same-sex unions.  The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for all federal purposes.  It does not bar such ceremonies in states where they are legal, but under its provisions other states are not required to recognize same-sex unions, and federal benefits, including military family benefits, are not extended to same-sex couples.    

In 2010 Obama Administration officials repeatedly promised members of Congress that the Defense of Marriage Act would be honored in the military.  Members should not have trusted these misleading assurances, but their understandings and the intent of Congress were codified in the bill repealing the 1993 law.  A few weeks after the repeal legislation was rammed through on the third try during the lame-duck session, the Obama administration stopped defending the constitutionality of the DOMA in several cases pending in the federal courts. 

Later in 2011, the Department of Defense took steps to circumvent the intent of Congress in the matter of same-sex ceremonies on military bases.  According to a Pentagon memorandum that DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson issued in September 2011, "Determinations regarding use of DoD real property and facilities for private functions, including religious and other ceremonies, should be made on a sexual-orientation neutral basis, provided such use is not prohibited by applicable state and local laws." 

Officials blatantly disregarded this part of the Johnson memo when the first military same-sex marriage took place in May 2012, in a dedicated chapel located at Fort Polk, LA.  This is a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages or even same-sex unions. The event sparked enormous controversy in the Fort Polk community, and fueled congressional action to protect religious liberty and to preclude same-sex marriages on military bases.

The West Point ceremonials for Sue Fulton and Penelope Gnevin suggested official endorsement, but marriage benefits will not be extended − yet.  The Johnson memo stated that "the act of making DoD property available for private functions, including religious and other activities, does not constitute an endorsement of the activities by DoD." 

LGBT activists are stepping up pressures to scrap that policy and effectively redefine marriage, despite congressional intent that the DOMA be fully recognized and benefits not be extended to same-sex couples in the military.  CMR has learned that high-level political appointees and military leaders are conducting Pentagon meetings on ways to extend full status and  marriage benefits to same-sex couples regardless of the cost, impact on other military families, or the culture of the armed forces as a whole. 

Pentagon policies that attempt to circumvent the DOMA will increase pressures for uniform recognition of same-sex marriages in all states where military personnel serve, regardless of state referenda affirming the definition of natural marriage, and before the Supreme Court considers cases challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.  As CMR predicted many times, the armed forces are being used to promote the LGBT agenda and to impose it on all institutions in the civilian world.

What Congress Can Do 

There is a way for Congress to intervene.  In May 2012 the House of Representatives approved legislation, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to protect religious freedom and to bar the use of military facilities for same-sex unions.  Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) are co-sponsoring a free-standing bill using identical language, titled the Military Religious Freedom Act (MRFA), S. 3526

Among other things, the Inhofe/Wicker Senate bill states, "A military installation or other property owned or rented by, or otherwise under the jurisdiction or control of, the Department of Defense, may not be used to officiate, solemnize, or perform a marriage or marriage-like ceremony involving anything other than the union of one man with one woman."

Since the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act already includes this provision, members of the House/Senate Conference Committee should be encouraged to incorporate it in the final version of the NDAA.  People who are interested in the issue should contact their own senators and ask them to co-sponsor S. 3526, the Military Religious Freedom Act. 

This analysis of the pending legislation includes a brief but persuasive letter to House Speaker John Boehner from Lt. General Benjamin R. Mixon, USA (Ret.): 

CMR Policy Analysis: Military Religious Freedom Act of 2012

All members of the House and Senate can be reached by calling 202/224-3121, or by communicating with them through CongressMerge.  Current House Armed Services Committee members are listed here, and Senate Armed Services Committee members are listed here

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