One year ago TODAY, President Barack Obama signed the repeal of the US military’s discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that barred gays and lesbians from serving openly in all branches of the US armed forces. In September of this year, the DADT policy was completely repealed and from that time forward gays and lesbians have been allowed to serve openly. Today we learn that a lesbian couple, Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta and Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, became the first same-sex couple to openly participate in the US Navy’s traditional “first kiss” practice. Click below to watch video of the historic first kiss.
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. 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 The kiss came after the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule regarding homosexuals was repealed earlier this year.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.”
Isn’t it amazing how something so simple as a kiss can be such a big, important deal? I can understand how most people might not understand the significant importance of being able to openly participate in the Navy’s “first kiss” practice but that is only because most people don’t know what it’s like to be discriminated against in this way. Gays and lesbians have had to hide and refrain from partaking in simple practices like this for fear of reprisal and expulsion from the US military. It’s when you see something so seemingly small as this become such a big deal that people begin to understand a bit more. I absolutely had to share this story with all y’all as soon as I heard about it. This may be one small kiss for this couple but it really is one giant leap for progress is our great nation.