The United States Military’s repeal of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ rule was repealed recently, and a tradition from the United States Navy caught up with that repeal on Wednesday. Two women sailors became the first to share the coveted first kiss on the docking pier after one of those women returned from sea.
Descending from the deck of the USS Oak Hill, Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta of Placerville, Calif., shared a kiss with her partner. Her partner is Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell of Los Angeles. Gaeta was in her dress uniform for the Navy but Snell was in plain clothes. The crowd awaiting the arrival of the ship waved flags and screamed in approval around them, according to the Huffington Post.
“It’s something new, that’s for sure,” Gaeta told reporters. “It’s nice to be able to be myself. It’s been a long time coming.”
There was really not much going on during or after the kiss that would differentiate the kiss from previous ones, as those in attendance were waiting around for their loved ones to exit the boat. No one tried to draw attention to the kiss, neither the Navy nor the couple, as onlookers talked amongst themselves while waiting for family members to exit the ship.
The commanding officer of the USS Oak Hill, David Bauer, said that the kiss between Gaeta and Snell would not garner much of a reaction. He also said that when the crew found out who would be selected for the kiss, they were very positive about it.
“It’s going to happen and the crew’s going to enjoy it. We’re going to move on and it won’t overshadow the great things that this crew has accomplished over the past three months,” Bauer said.
The ship was returning from an 80-day deployment to Central America. The ship docked at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story with a crew of more than 300, which participated in exercises that included the militaries in Panama, Colombia, Honduras and Guatemala. The maneuvers were included in the Amphibious-Southern Partnership Station 2012.
Both women from the kiss are Navy fire controlmen. They are responsible for maintaining and operating weapons systems on Navy ships. The couple has been dating for two years, after meeting at training school, where they roomed together.
“We did have to hide it a lot in the beginning,” Snell said. “A lot of people were not always supportive of it in the beginning, but we can finally be honest about who we are in our relationship, so I’m happy.”
The Navy said that the kiss between the two women was the first on record that included a same-sex couple upon a ship’s return to port. For the opportunity, sailors and their loved ones bought $1 raffle tickets, with Gaeta purchasing $50 in tickets. The money went to a Christmas party hosted for the children of the sailors.
“I think that it’s something that is going to open a lot of doors, for not just our relationship, but all the other gay and lesbian relationships that are in the military now,” she said.
Snell is stationed on the USS Bainbridge.