Obama appoints openly gay service member to West Point board

July 6, 2011

President Obama on Tuesday appointed an openly gay Army veteran, Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton, to the Board of Visitors at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Fulton, who will be the board’s first openly gay member, graduated from West Point in 1980 as a member of the first class to admit women. She served for five years in the Army Signal Corps and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain.

She is the executive director and co-founder of Knights Out, an organization of gay male and lesbian West Point graduates and supporters, the White House said in a statement announcing her appointment.

“I’m proud to have the opportunity to support the cadets who will lead our Army in the coming years,” Fulton said in a news release issued by OutServe, an association of gay military personnel. “And I’m pleased that the president is clearly setting the stage for a post-‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ military with appointments like this. It is my honor to continue to serve the Academy and the Army that I love.”

The West Point Board of Visitors, the oldest currently operating board appointed by the president, is composed of seven members of Congress and six presidential appointees. Former U.S. representative Patrick J. Murphy (D-Pa.), an Army veteran and a vocal advocate for repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning gays from serving openly in the military, was recently appointed to the board.

“Sue’s appointment demonstrates the commitment our nation’s most hallowed institutions have to equal treatment of everyone — a quintessential American value,” OutServe spokesman Jonathan Hopkins, a West Point graduate and a former Army captain, said in a written statement.

— Bloomberg News

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