When Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta kissed Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell today in Virginia Beach, a little bit of history was made.
"It's a time-honored tradition at Navy homecomings — one lucky sailor is chosen to be first off the ship for the long-awaited kiss with a loved one. Today, for the first time [according to the Navy], the happily reunited couple was gay."
This is a case, The Associated Press says, of a Navy tradition catching up with repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that previously barred openly gay men and women from serving in the U.S. military.
Gaeta, who had just arrived home on the USS Oak Hill amphibious landing ship, won the first kiss honor in a raffle. According to the AP:
"Sailors and their loved ones bought $1 raffle tickets for the opportunity. Gaeta said she bought $50 of tickets ['fewer than many people buy,' she told the Virginian-Pilot]. The Navy said the money would be used to host a Christmas party for the children of sailors."
The Virginian-Pilot says that Snell, Gaeta's "girlfriend of two years ... was waiting when she crossed the brow. They kissed. The crowd cheered."
Both women are fire controlmen, the AP says. Snell serves on the USS Bainbridge, a guided missile destroyer. Gaeta's ship was returning from an 80-day mission to Central America.
There's a photo of the moment on the Virginian-Pilot's website. The newspaper says it will be sharing it with the AP later today. After that happens, we'll add it to this post.