Many Navy ships raffle off the right to be the first sailor down the brow to kiss a loved one upon return to the ship's homeport. When the USS Oak Hill (LSD-51) docked in Little Creek, Virginia today, the winner of the raffle kissed her partner. Without fear of reprisal. As reported by the Associated Press:
Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta of Placerville, Calif., descended from the USS Oak Hill amphibious landing ship and shared a quick kiss with her partner, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell of Los Angeles. The crowd screamed and waved flags around them.
Both women, ages 22 and 23 respectively, are fire controlmen in the Navy. They met at training school and have been dating for two years.
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. Sailors and their loved ones bought $1 raffle tickets for the opportunity. Gaeta said she bought $50 of tickets. The Navy said the money would be used to host a Christmas party for the children of sailors.