In what has become a tradition at Navy homecomings, one sailor is chosen by raffle to be first off the ship to kiss a loved one — on Wednesday, for the first time, the reunited couple was same-sex.
At Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta, 23, who had been at sea for 80 days on the USS Oak Hill, won the right to be the first person to kiss her partner — 22-year-old Citlalic Snell — on shore in the raffle.
Officials said it marked the first time a same-sex couple has performed the traditional “first kiss” as the ship docked at port.
The couple said the moment had been “a long time coming.”
“It’s nice to be able to be myself,” Galeta told the Virginian-Pilot, about life after the repeal. “It’s been pretty awesome to say the least.”
Snell is a sailor herself, assigned to the destroyer USS Bainbridge.
The U.S. military‘s 17-year-old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was lifted in September, after years of debate.