After a year that brought so much bad news, we’re pleased to warm things up for this holiday Truthdigger installment by celebrating two women who put a fine point on the end of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and made headlines — not to mention an iconic photo — with a simple and moving show of love.

Yes, we’re talking about Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta and Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, two sailors whose romance started during Navy training two years ago but was kept secret out of necessity until the ban on GLBTQ troops serving openly in the American armed forces was lifted in September. Fast forward to last Wednesday morning, when they gave the world quite the big reveal as Gaeta descended the brow of the Oak Hill, newly returned to Virginia Beach, Va., after a three-month voyage, took Snell into her arms and gave her an unmistakably romantic kiss before a cheering crowd, greeting her sweetheart and launching the military into the post-DADT era in one fell swoop.

This historic PDA was made possible by years of activism aimed at eradicating the policy that will go down as one of the blights on Bill Clinton’s presidential legacy, plus some rallying on Gaeta’s part to win a raffle to win the photo-op upon the Oak Hill’s return from its Central American sojourn. The 23-year-old sailor bought 50 tickets for a dollar a pop — money well spent, as her number came up, perhaps with some help from her shipmates. As Snell, 22, put it to the press, “I think it was meant to be.”

So is their relationship, apparently, as the two are planning to wed. For now, they’re the first couple to become Truthdiggers of the Week. Check out the video of their reunion after the excerpt below. –KA

The Virginian-Pilot:

As the rest of the crew begins to file off the ship, Gaeta and Snell slip away for a few moments alone before speaking to a group of news reporters.

They say they’re both a little embarrassed by all the attention, but they understand it.

“It’s a big deal,” Gaeta says. “It’s been a long time coming.”

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