HONOLULU (CBS/AP) — Sgt. Brandon Morgan didn’t expect to become a global phenomenon when he kissed his partner upon returning from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

But then last weekend a friend posted a photo of their embrace on the Gay Marines page on Facebook. Morgan, in desert camouflage, is seen wrapping his legs around Dalan Wells’ legs. A large American flag, draped floor to ceiling inside an aircraft hangar at a Marine base in Hawaii, is in the background.

Photos of exuberant servicemen and homecomings aren’t new. But this one, taken some five months after the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy prohibiting gay servicemen from openly acknowledging their sexuality, is among the first showing a gay active duty serviceman in uniform kissing his partner at a homecoming.

More than 40,000 people have clicked the “like” button for the photo on Facebook, and thousands have shared it with their friends on several social media sites. Journalists are inundating Morgan with interview requests, and supporters from as far away as Italy are flooding his inbox with messages of thanks and encouragement.

The 25-year-old from Oakdale, Stanislaus County, said it was “a great moment in history” but he really just wanted to show his love to Wells when he landed in Hawaii on Feb. 22.

“I’m so honored to be part of something that people have fought so hard for in Congress, the White House and the military. But when it comes down to it, we didn’t intend for this go to worldwide. We were just happy to be together,” Morgan said Thursday in a telephone interview.

Two female Navy sailors shared the first same-sex military homecoming kiss in December when one returned home to Virginia after 80 days at sea.

Morgan said he looks forward to the day when such greetings are so commonplace they don’t make news.

“We all know this will die down and become the norm. It is the norm—everyone is allowed, no matter who you are, to have a homecoming now,” he said.

Many of the more than 10,000 comments on the Gay Marine page’s posting of the photo page celebrated the image.

Luis Perez wrote “Best to you and your loved ones. You inspire so many people with your bravery, including this wonderful homecoming.”

Few disparaged Morgan for kissing a man. The critical comments generally questioned the appropriateness of a Marine in uniform wrapping his legs around a partner.

Feedback from fellow Marines has been positive too, Morgan said, though he has some regret for jumping on Wells. He called that “excess amount of public display of affection.” His superiors have talked to him about it, he said, and he agrees he went a little too far. The Marines have rules, even at homecomings, Morgan said.

“I love him so much. It was my chance to show him how much I love him openly. But then again, I’m still a Marine,” he said.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (9)
  1. Rick says:

    I’m just impressed that his boyfriend didn’t fall over.

  2. Melinda says:

    I love them both & celebrate with them. A loved one who serves and returns safely in times of war is a gift beyond measure. If this is LOVE- how can it be wrong?

    Let us all be loved so little.

    1. nikki says:

      I agree with you, it’s a beautiful picture!

      1. Melinda says:

        First, if you are indeed a Veteran of Vietnam, Bless you and thank you for your service to this country. Some of the finest men I’ve known walked out of those jungles, I’ve stood at the Wall with my parents as they touched friends never forgotten and cried, my tears fell too.
        I would like to congratulate you on your direct line to the Almighty! It takes most of us a lifetime of goodness and death to even glimpse Heaven, let alone Angels. If being a stay at home mother is now a perversion of the norm, well….
        I would prefer to simply gather friends rather than stones. As for our enemies, let them see us as weak; stupid too if it pleases them. I’m sure to most prey the Mantis appears to be standing still.

  3. wow says:

    This is only getting big because the media is making it big. Who cares that we have weirdos in the army, media just need to chill out and stop publishing reports like these.

    1. Melinda says:

      Marine, OOOH-RA! And my opinion has nothing to do with the media. Face it, if the larger person was the Marine and male & the “pouncer” with legs wrapped around him was a girl; there would have been reactions ranging from delight to crudity. (And still a dressing down from the Corp.) YOU, the observer make it about two men. Having some in the media shoving it at us packaged that way doesn’t help.
      Sadly I would venture my opinion on this, even give some advice, but I’d never be heard. I’m a breeder. And the best things we do as a race is stereotype, profile, ostracize, penalize and shun one another for our perceived differences and supposed sins. And all for Love. Who do I blame for loving me so, please show me?

  4. JaneQPublic says:

    Only to you, dear. the ‘rest of the world’ doesn’t give a hoot….really!

  5. NoNo says:

    I hate this picture and not because its 2 guys. All the home coming pictures have been sweet, classy and professional even the 2 woman and this one is just tacky and I would say the same thing if it was a man and woman.

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