A public embrace between two female sailors from California is being hailed as "the kiss heard 'round the world" by activists who fought for a repeal of the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta from Placerville shared a kiss with partner Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell of Los Angeles on Wednesday as Gaeta's ship, the amphibious landing ship Oak Hill, returned to base at Virginia Beach, Va., after an 80-day deployment to Central America.
"It's something new, that's for sure," Gaeta, 23, told reporters after the kiss. "It's nice to be able to be myself. It's been a long time coming."
The two met while training to maintain and operate weapons systems aboard ship. They've been dating for two years.
"We did have to hide it a lot in the beginning," said Snell, 22, in an Associated Press story. "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."
Gaeta was chosen to have the honor of the "first kiss" as part of a raffle in which sailors bought $1 tickets to raise funds for a Christmas party for military children. Gaeta said she bought $50 worth of tickets.