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Gay marine, partner reflect on first kiss seen around the globe: 'The world went away for a few minutes'

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

A kiss is just a kiss unless you're a couple of strapping hunks and one is a U.S. Marine coming home from war to his male partner.

Then a Facebook photo of the big smooch goes viral and becomes a news event covered around the world.

Marine Sgt. Brandon Morgan returned Feb. 22 from Afghanistan to Hawaii and jumped into partner Dalan Wells' arms. (Morgan is 5-feet 11-inches tall; Wells is 6-foot-6.)

A friend, David Lewis, photographed the family reunion.

"With all that was going on, we didn’t even know he was there taking pictures," Morgan says. "The world went away for a few minutes."

Morgan later posted the homecoming photos on his personal Facebook page and a friend then reposted the pictures on the Gay Marines page.

Within hours Sunday, the main photo had thousands of views and had been reposted on countless other pages. News stories ran worldwide. As of Tuesday, it had about 37,000 Facebook "likes" and nearly 9,000 comments.

"I can only imagine that it went viral because we were the first men to kiss," Morgan says. Shortly after the U.S. military ended it's gay ban late last year, two female Navy petty officers publicly kissed at a Virginia homecoming ceremony.

One of the couple's Facebook friends sent at critical message to Morgan's mother, driving her to tears.

"What did you do to mess up as a mother to make him do this?" read the comment.

Says Morgan, a Christian who grew up in Oakdale, Calif., near Modesto: "She loves me and my sister, who's a lesbian. She said, if you don't like my children and how I raised them, I don't care. My mother is awesome!"

Morgan, 25, and Wells, 38, have been dating about a month-and-a half and that they've known each other a few years.

"I honestly knew I was in love with him from the first moment I met him," Morgan says, adding that before he came out he had made "a lot of mistakes," including marrying a woman.

During Morgan's six months in Afghanistan, "there was nonstop letter writing every day."

Wells, an oil painter in Oahu, says that when Morgan first asked him out, he said no.

"I didn’t know how much he loved me and how much I was in love with him," Wells says.

The photographed kiss was their first, says Morgan, who re-enlisted in the Marines in October and plans to stay in the military about 3 1/2 more years.

The men say they plan to work with the gay military group Outserve.

Wells says he's not bothered by the sudden fame. "I’m a very shy person," Wells says. "If this helps one troubled teen and gives them hope for the future, if I can help, I will."

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I feel so sorry for the small-minded people posting here. They also scare the hell out of me. In this day and age, how can ANYONE be against love?

Disgusting, wrong , and shameful

Gross! So wrong!

Halfwit Manny: That you equate gayness with bestiality says so much more about you than anyone else. Why would you even come up with something like that? If you can't tell the difference between a dog and an adult human being, I think you need serious help.

GARIB

I sincerely thank you for your service, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping to provide a free country for me to grow up in.

It is in that spirit of freedom that this discussion is taking place.

In the past, gay people either stayed home enjoying the freedoms paid for by others in blood, or they lied about being gay.

In the latter case, their sense of duty to their country compelled them to serve in the military and carry their own weight by fighting against those who would see our democracy destroyed.

The only thing that has changed is that today gay people can carry their weight and defend their freedom and ours without hiding, or lying. As such it's likely that we're going to see more homecoming photos like these in the future.

In the same spirit of freedom, you are entitled to not accept gay and lesbians in the Corps. I am duty-bound to defend your right to be un-accepting and I'm happy to do so.

I disagree with you. But I respect you nonetheless.

Very Respectfully,
Ducat

All those who come up with the "god and bible thing?:
Many of us do not believe in gods and think that the bible is just an inspiration for Disney and Transformers. And we vote. We do.

GODS BLESS AMERICAN! LAND THAT I LOVE!

In GODS WE TRUST!

Yeah! Baby!

Congratulations guys! Sgt. Morgan, you and your partner are pathing the way for other gay men and women, not just in the military, but around the world to be proud and love who they are!
As for the homophobic, narrow-minded philistines! Some of the most influential people in history were gay and for you to judge these two people because of who they are makes me sick to my stomach!
Its about time! And once again, congratulations guys! X x x

I am proud that Morgan has served to protect our freedoms. How dare anyone who has posted here question his patriotism because he is gay. Throughout many generations, gays in the military were forced to live a lie. Thank you for your service.

Nasty, this "in your face" attitude is one reason why so many people are turned off by your lifestyle.

One word..WOW! this photo is straight up SEZI made me blush. I'me christian and everything but I think it's not my right to judge. Gay, lesbien or whatever... people deserve to be happy. I think all this hate towards this photo is overrated. It's like racist people judging people because of their skin color. He's a marine and serving his coutry thats all that matters to me. Get over it if you dont like it don't look.

Some of these people's love in their life is just amazing, and probably mostly from christian people. How very sad, maybe our country is in decline because of the lack of love in our country to other people.
What is it really hurting you all?
I praise these two men for being allowed by our society to be themselves as other couples returning from war. What a blessing from God. yes, a blessing from God.

SHAME ON THE TWO OF YOU!!! couldn't you two wait till you get into a private area like your own home or car!!! if you look good there is a child in the background! my husband is in the army and you two put the whole arm forces into shame!!!

This is the most nauseating thing that I have ever seen. What happen to the CODE - GOD, COUNTRY, CORP. I guess that Sgt Morgan does not believe in what SEMPER-FI means Always Faithful, Always Loyal as the good books tell us God created woman form the side of man to be his partner, he did not created man for the side of man so that they could be partners or woman from the side of woman, it is very simple he created man and woman one for the other. Sgt Morgan gets the hell out of the Corp and does not desecrate the uniform that I and those before me put one. We did not split blood, sweat and tears for you t be so vulgar and display your affections for another man in front of the world.

Welcome home and thank you for your service, Sgt. Morgan. Don't forget that the families of military personnel serve, too. So, thank you, Dalan Wells, for supporting one of America's finest during his tour in Afghanistan. You are both brave Americans, and many of us deeply appreciate your service to our country.

JG = total drama queen

We don't have a cure for HIV and Aids yet. Same sex partners is mental illness. America will slowly die.

I say whateverrrr. But here is the thing, does it have to be
on the front page of the internet feed. THERE ARE KIDS THAT READ THE PAPER.

oohrah you single handedly made all the campaigns we marines served in disappear from the memories of most americans and the world, went from devil dog to hello kitty

This is Picture should not of been publish. I, as the majority of marines cannot express ourselves how strongly oppose we are to having openly gay marines serve along side us. We have been warned and given formal classes to keep our mouths shut about this. If we are caught talking negatively about hthe law Obama changed, we are subject to be punished under the UCMJ. I am not kidding....damn shame.

There is no cure for closed minds. If you'd really rather that this guy not follow his heart, not be true to himself, marry a woman and make them both miserable, just so you... What? Don't have to see two men in love? Then I don't think you get what the American pJesuit of happiness is all about. Homosexuality exists. It always has and always will. It is as much a part of this world as trees and mountains and oceans,

Keep up the negative comments. They make me hard, because you hatas are powerless to stop pictures like this -- until that bittersweet day when lesbian and gay soldiers kissing in public become so common that no one bothers to post the pictures anymore. BTW, ain't Brandon the cutie? Especially clasping his lover with those thighs, which are totally hot and LIKE BUTTA! I guess we know who's the bottom, and I'm insanely jealous that I'm not his top!

Love is love. As long as it's between consenting adults, it's all good. I love the way that some people think that "liberalism" causes "gay".

Guess what -- "gay" has been part of the human condition for at least as long as recorded history, and likely longer.

I'm a Liberal and a raging heterosexual. I also like guns. I also hate public displays of affection, no matter who is committing them.

I also know that that is just tough sh*t for me because I'm not the only person on the planet and we are supposed to consider ourselves free as Americans, so the people who have the diseases of "Liberalism" or "Conservatism" have equal rights.

How about some REALISM? It's just a KISS.

Jonathan, thank you. In Leviticus, it DOES say that eating pork and seafood is an abomination. So is men cutting their hair and shaving. So is being gay, it says. OK, but why is it that it's totally cool to have pork, seafood, and to shave and have a neat haircut and not for someone to be gay. Thanks for reminding me of this hypocrisy that straights indulge in. lol posted by Larry.

*****************************************************

Not fair, dude. I'm straight and I don't engage in this hypocrisy. It's not okay to stereotype straight people anymore than it is gay people.

*****************************************************

I often wonder about people who spout off all this hate understand what it's like being on the inside looking out. I'm on the inside looking out and I really do not understand your hate, it's wasted on me. I hear it, I read it, I listen to your points, but it can never resonate, because I have no clue how to be anyone other than who I am. My life does not feel wrong to me, and it has never felt wrong to anyone else who has been gay throughout the centuries, because if it did, it would have been killed off with your hate and rage. My whole life I have been taught to accept people for who they are, and engage them in their worlds to the best of my abilities, and yet that is never acceptance is rarely afforded upon me. I'm not sure what I'm expected to do with myself. Because I'm not like you am I expected to live in a closet which by definition defines me as being ashamed of myself? Am I expected to lie, to deceive someone else of the appropriate gender for their entire lives depriving them of intimacy? Am I expected to change, or am I just expected to live my life without intimacy? And because these things are never asked of anyone else, I find it difficult to accept it being asked of me. So these guys kissed, I'm hard pressed to figure out why everyone finds it so offensive, but I've read my proof, many of you do. I saw the picture and didn't think anything of it, and it pained me to read that this is the first time this has been photographed, and at the same time it surprised me. So you, people who hate me, and I were both born in the same way, and were both promised equal consideration under the law, both believers in freedom and justice, and both citizens of the same country are different because of what turns us on? Who we care about? I don't get it, and I suspect most gay people don't really get it either. So the only thing we are capable of doing is being ourselves. I'd invite you to judge us by the content of our character, but evidently, even a man who has proven his character by risking his life for yours has received your wrath, I doubt my character even matters.

Beautifully, beautifully put, Kael. Thank you.

Thanks for making me nauseous, this is pure and simply disgusting!

God is doing his work in spite of some controlling churches........Good for you Men....I will marry you when you are ready and as far as some of you demented people who have written sick comments, I will perform an exorcism on you and along with God get the evil out of you so you can become clean in the eyes of God.

how dare anyone say this is gross or keep it to yourself if this was a man and woman you wouldnt care so obviously you're curious about yourselves otherwise this wouldnt have affected you

The funny thing is that none of you haters has the guts to spew your bilious hate to Sgt Morgan's face, because you know he could kick your wimpy a**es in no time flat. He's clearly one brave dude, who had the guts to enlist while you stayed home to whine about everything. Pathetic.

You are creating God in your own image if he hates the same people that you do.

What Sgt Morgan did was wrong and not because hes gay but his conduct in itself. As an Active Duty Marine with Multiple deployments and a tour in Afghanistan myself. I too have come home to a loved one but I didn't jump all over her even though i wanted to. Regardless of how you feel during a homecoming there is still a certain level of restraint you have to show, because as a Marine its your job to hold the standards the Marine Corps sets. Public Display of Affection, especially in uniform is a huge deal. Nobody put a gun to SGT Morgans head and made him join, he chose that and with that decision came the sacrifice of giving up personal freedoms to be compliant with the rules and standards of the marine corps. As a SGT... as a Non Commisioned Officer he is a leader to other marines and what kind of example is he setting by letting his emotions get the best of him and display that excessive behavior? If hes going to kiss his partner thats fine its in regs but essentric PDA just because he came home and wanted to give him the best kiss ever, it's selfish and undisciplined. Being Gay doesn't make you exempt from regulations. YOUR A MARINE SGT MORGAN, ACT LIKE IT!

Congrats SGT Morgan, awesome picture.

And to ALL the haters, I think it is funny that you are even on this page, if you don't like gays why are you looking at the picture, reading the article and then commenting on it, don't you have some other organization to comment on. I am sure that the westboro baptist church, will gladly take you they hate everyone just like you do.

Loving is so much easier than hating. Give it a try. or go away.

It doesn't matter what your sexual preference is.....however there is suppose to be a respect to the uniform from all service members. Surviving in the military for 10 years I was taught not to display certain emotions while in uniform.

AWESOME!!! Its about time!!! Welcome home and thanks for all you do!!!! :)

I think I'll leave it up to God to judge them, I certainly don't have the proper credentials. I don't understand homosexuality or lesbianism, but I'm not gay, so I can't. I do thank this young man for serving our country, from the bottom of my heart.

For everyone that says God will be angry:

God is PERFECT and He makes no mistakes. So to say that being gay is an abomination is to say that God created the person wrong and that therefore God made a mistake. So if you hate gays it means you hate God. And all of us gays who are good people will sit at His right hand on the day of judgement and watch as those who have filled their souls with hate are sodomized by demons as ironic punishment for their hatred. God doesn't care who you love as long as you love and not hate.

Thank you boys for loving and not hating. You are an INSPIRATION to us all.

Check please!!

The only problem I have with this picture is wrapping legs.my husband and I are both marines and I would never wrap legs in uniform. I know they taught you about how much pda is allowed.

I think it is wonderful that they can profess their love for each other like that. They have had to live their lives sliently due to what others think. As long as they are both happy, that is what counts. All the opinions of others thinking, is just that. Who really cares what others think. Just be/c they don't agree with them. To each his own. Let them be, and enjoy each other. Good for them. Hope they have a happy life together.

Best wishes to you and your partner. Thank you for your service to our country.

Hmmmm. for those of you who are against this-I wonder how you might feel if this marine had a gun to the head of someone who was going to hurt you, kill you or someone you loved? Hmmmmm. I would hope that you would kiss him, too. Get over your self and be thankful that love is all around us. If you don't like it, tough. This is America and they can now do what they damn well please.

The only difference is, this person loved by a man.
Doesn’t mean he is incapable of doing things and luck of dedication to his duty.
World will ends but a true love will last, and that’s we always fighting for.
Everybody deserves to be loved and chose the a person we want to spend our life with.
Brandon...You are a truly warrior inside and out.
From Iraq to Afghanistan we love you...

Damn people, these men are willing to die for your right to trash them. For those of you who said dishonorably discharge them you should be arrested for a hate crime. These soldiers have the right to love who they want and they are willing to die for it ARE YOU?

I would LOVE for one of the hillbillies spewing hatred over this article to give me one good LOGICAL reason as to why this picture (or gay couples in general) is so wrong.

in the grander scheme of things it wasn't too long ago that a black man could get killed for kissing a white woman. Now most of the people who are homophobic in America today would claim that they are not racist. It's just a different time, people always need someone to hate or they want to put their ideas on somebody because someone somewhere misinterpreted the bible or whatever. Honestly love is a beautiful thing wherever it may appear and it is a big deal because it's something that hasn't really been seen too often.

Crickets chirp, Camwi. There are no logical reasons.

moral (adj.; morals, n.): concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character

For all those who are quick to judge the moral capacity of this soldier just because he is in love with a man instead of a woman, just keep in mind that while you sit at home and detest him, he will still be actively defending your right to hate him and speak out against him. His willingness to serve those who bear hatred toward him is a fine display of altruism and selfless love. It makes the comments about his "deviance" and "immorality" look petty and ignorant.

While I do not have time to give a complete history and theology lesson via comment on a webpage, for all of the God-fearers, it is important to remember:

1. Many of the laws printed in the Old Testament were dictated by social constructs of the day (e.g. stoning a non-virgin bride, not mixing fabrics in your garments, etc.). In fact, it says not to marry your wife's sister while your wife is still living, not because it is inherently wrong, but because it would make them rivals; it also says to not have sex with your brother's wife, because it would violate your brother (with no reference to how it would affect the woman). The disgrace in homosexuality back then was for the man to take a place of the woman, to give up one's "masculinity" through the act, because it was disgraceful for a man to be compared in any way to a woman. It was a male-centered culture, and women were secondary in every respect.

2. The Bible, no matter how holy a document, was written by MEN through the influence of God. Since it is understood in Christianity that humans are inherently flawed, that means that some bias, both of the author and of the society they lived in, would make its way into these writings. In fact, it would be impossible for small parts of their culture NOT to leak into what they wrote! Ergo, not everything written was straight from the mouth of God, which is why it is important to study the texts and the original languages to delve deeper into what they actually mean instead of taking them at face value and using them as an excuse to judge.

3. And finally, when did Jesus himself speak against any kind of love? Oh, wait, he didn't. He also never spoke against homosexuality.

Back to the point at hand:

Serving others no matter how much they judge you and hate you--that's what Sgt. Morgan does. Isn't that what Jesus did, and isn't that what Jesus taught? And isn't the fundamental idea of Christianity to bring oneself as close to the image and actions of Jesus as you can, and make his example as relevant as possible in present day?

Perhaps those who feel so strongly against this picture should reflect upon their own character, and not the character of Sgt. Morgan and his partner.

Thats awesome thank you for your service, for those of you that are beng hateful remember thats a sin, you too will be judged before god, you aren't exempt from the rules because you are straight.

The whole line that marriage existed before governments is utter bullshitt. You know what marriage was then, it was a contract between a man and the woman's father.It used to be about owning a woman and joining families together for power and property

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