Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta descended from the USS Oak Hill and shared a quick kiss with her partner, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, breaking boundaries of navy tradition.
Gaeta, 23, wore her navy dress uniform while Snell, 22, wore a black leather jacket, scarf and blue jeans. The crowd screamed and waved flags around them.
“It’s something new, that’s for sure,” Gaeta told reporters after the kiss.
“It’s nice to be able to be myself. It’s been a long time coming.”
Navy officials said it was the first time on record that a same-sex couple was chosen to kiss first upon a ship’s return.
However, besides that, there was nothing to differentiate the moment for any other reunion following a military deployment.
Neither the navy nor the couple tried to draw attention to what was happening and many onlookers were busy talking among themselves as they waited for their loved ones to come off the ship, which was returning from an 80-day deployment to Central America.
Snell said she believed their experience would pave the way for more displays of gay affection in the military.
“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.
In September, the US military lifted its ban on gays serving openly in uniform, a policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.