History was made on December 22, 2011 -- history of the happiest sort. For on that day, the power of love was on display, as two lovely lesbian Navy personnel got to have "the first kiss."

Let me put that in some context. The United States Navy is a grand bastion of tradition, for every occasion from showing up at a certain port to crossing the equator for the first time, to making a safe homecoming. This event comes from the latter. For when a ship comes home, the crew members determine one amongst their own to receive the official 'first kiss' from a loved one waiting ashore. Depending on the circumstances of the ship and its crew, the award of this honor might be decided by merit, or by chance. Perhaps a bit of both were at play as the amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) steamed home to Virginia Beach, from an 80 day deployment to Central America, to participate in exercises with counterparts in Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, and Panama.

The crew of the ship conducted a raffle -- to raise money for their childrens' Christmas party -- with the first kiss being the prize to be won. Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta, from Placerville, California, bought 50 tickets at a dollar a pop (and apparently had friends buying tickets on her behalf as well). And wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, the winning ticket was one of Gaeta's. And so it came to pass that on this blustery December day, Ms. Gaeta was met at the dock to bestow a loving kiss on her paramour -- Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, of Los Angeles, California. And kiss they did, in a moment as momentous by some measures as that famous V-E Day kiss on the streets of New York between a random sailor and a random nurse he'd pulled aside for the moment. It was a sweet kiss, a loving kiss, passionate, yes, but not at all overdone or vulgar. And that single moment was a shockwave to the history of same sex relations in the military.

I won't pretend that there can't have been a dollop of calculation in this couple being the first gay pair to earn this honor. After all, they are a lesbian couple, rather than a gay male couple, which for a wholly unfair litany of sociological reasons, would tend to draw more brazen objections. And more than that, they are an adorable couple, both as individuals and as a pair. And yet the snippets of interviews shown on various news broadcasts shows that both are possessed of camera-ready composure. And, importantly, they are both Navy personnel, indeed both Petty Officers in the same profession within the service, fire controlmen vitally tasked with the maintenance and operation of weapons systems on ships (and in fact they met when, in a bit of uncanny matchmaking, the Navy assigned the pair as roommates during training). So, naturally, this wasn't their first kiss, but it was significant in presenting a hallowed Navy tradition well-handled by a gay couple, proud to serve openly in the military, and causing no objection or disruption from their fellow sailors or up the chain of command.

More on this moment of all-American beauty, including some images of this adorable smooch, can be found in a number of news and opinion articles -- Kiss heard 'round the world: Lesbians chosen for Navy tradition (from the LA Times), It Got Better: Lesbian Couple Share Navy's 'First Kiss' (from Rolling Stone), Sealed with a (lesbian) kiss: Gay sailors share Navy's traditional homecoming embrace as ship returns (the AP version), Lesbian couple share traditional Navy first kiss (the Reuters version), and a great YouTube vid, Historic LGBT Moment - Lesbian Military Couple Share First Kiss.

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