Lesbian couple share traditional Navy first kiss

PORTSMOUTH, Va (Reuters) - History was made on a Virginia Beach pier on Wednesday when two women sailors, one just home from 80 days at sea, became what was believed to be the first same-sex couple to share the Navy’s traditional first kiss.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta (L), assigned to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), kisses her partner Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, following the ship's return to homeport after a three-month deployment in the Caribbean, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in this handout photograph taken and released on December 21, 2011. REUTERS/U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Mann/Handout

At Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, where a crowd had gathered to welcome home loved ones, Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta, 23, stepped off amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill and planted a kiss on the lips of her partner, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, Navy spokeswoman Ensign Sylvia Landis confirmed.

Asked if they were the first same-sex couple to share the tradition, Landis said the Navy “doesn’t really keep track of stuff like that ... but it’s believed to be the first one.”

The kiss came after the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule regarding homosexuals was repealed earlier this year.

Landis said that “to the Navy, (it was) really just a normal homecoming.

“It’s just news to some people because for them (gays and lesbians), they don’t have to hide it anymore, I guess. It’s just a first; that’s why it’s significant to some people.”

Gaeta, of Los Angeles, told local newspaper The Virginian-Pilot she had bought $50 worth of $1 tickets in a raffle run by the Family Readiness Group.

“Traditionally, when a family comes home there’s a raffle ... that each sailor or family member buys tickets to,” Landis explained. “They draw names for winners of first hugs and first kisses.”

She said money raised in the raffle would be used to throw a Christmas party for children of sailors.

Snell, of Placerville, California, told the newspaper the kiss would “open a lot of doors not just for our relationship, but for all the other gay and lesbian relationships that are in the military.”

Editing by Jerry Norton