West Point 1980
The West Point graduates of 1980, including Brenda "Sue" Fulton. Image: thelazydba/Flickr/CC BY

President Obama named Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton to the West Point Military Academy’s Board of Visitors on Tuesday, according to a white House press release. She is the first openly gay or lesbian person to serve in such a capacity for the U.S. military.

The Board of Visitors

The West Point Board of Visitors advises and makes recommendations to the president on matters concerning the West Point Academy. It comprises nine members of congress and six presidential appointees.

‘Respect all people equally’

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Fulton said:

“I would hope it would symbolize to all people gay and straight that anti-gay bias in the military is a thing of the past. I would hope it would tell them that if you’re willing to serve your country and you’re qualified, other factors don’t matter. I see my role as, in some sense, helping West point send that message — that we respect all people equally. That’s part of our values, that’s part of our code.”

Member of first class to allow women

Fulton, 52, graduated from West point in 1980. She was part of the first class at the academy to accept women. After receiving her commission, she commanded a military intelligence company for the Army Signal Corps in Germany for five years. She was honorably discharged and has since worked for Schering-Plough/Merck and Procter & Gamble. She has done volunteer work in India, Israel and the U.S. and currently resides in New Jersey.

Fought against ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Fulton says she realized she was a lesbian after graduating from West Point, while serving in Germany. She did not “come out,”  however, until 1993 when she actively campaigned for the repeal of the U.S. military “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

An outspoken activist

Fulton is the co-founder and executive director of Knights Out, an organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) West Point graduates. She is also a founding member of OutServe, an organization that supports LGBT people who are actively serving in the military but who have not yet “come out.”

Sources

Army Times: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2011/07/ap-west-point-brenda-sue-fulton-board-of-visitors-070511/
On Top: http://www.ontopmag.com/article.aspx?id=8858&MediaType=1&Category=26
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/06/brenda-sue-fulton-obama-west-point_n_891183.html

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