New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has nominated Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton to head the Motor Vehicle Commission. If she is confirmed, she will be the first high-level government appointment of an LGBT person since Murphy’s inauguration. Currently, Fulton is the executive director of Women in the Service Change Initiative.
Fulton, among the first class at West Point to admit women in 1980, served in the Army until she was honorably discharged as a captain. In her post-military career, she founded several organizations to help LGBT members of the military. Fulton worked briefly with the Campaign for Military Service (later SLDN), supporting Bill Clinton’s efforts to overturn the ban on LGBT service. Those efforts failed in the 1990s, leading to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
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.
President Obama appointed her the first openly gay member of the West Point Board of Visitors in 2011. She was the first United States Military Academy graduate to chair the board four years later in 2015. Fulton and Penelope Dara Gnesin became the first same-sex couple to be married in at the U.S. Military Academy’s Cadet Chapel at West Point (not to be confused with the Old Cadet Chapel).
“We endorsed Phil Murphy during his campaign because we were confident he would choose competent and qualified leaders for New Jersey,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of Garden State Equality. “He has shown us today that our belief in him was well-founded. We are optimistic that this is just the beginning of a long line of appointments and decisions made by Gov. Murphy that will positively impact and be reflective of the LGBT community.”