Alan Ceppos and Frederic Rambaud of Water Mill say they wouldn't describe themselves as gay rights activists, but when they decided to become the first couple in town to wed under the new same-sex marriage law, they wanted to take a stand: "It had to be a public ceremony," Rambaud said.
The town clerk even offered to conduct the ceremony at their home where they keep rescued horses and chickens and have an apiary for their Hamptons Honey business, but they turned down her offer. They wanted it to be out in the open, and even wanted protesters there, to make it clear that this civil rights battle isn't over, Rambaud said. "Forty years from now, people will still fight it."
"It's really for that 9-year-old who's teased all the time," Ceppos said.
Ceppos, from Brooklyn, and Rambaud, from Senegal in west Africa, , 38 years after they met in Paris, where Rambaud took English lessons from Ceppos.
Protesters were at town hall earlier in the morning, but they left by the time the 10:30 a.m. ceremony started.
Rambaud said that though same-sex marriage has been legal in other U.S. states for quite a few years now, they didn't want to get married unless they could do it legally in the state they have called home since 1979. The entered a state-recognized domestic partnership in 1993.
"I never thought that marriage was going to be a choice," Rambaud said during an interview a few days before the wedding. "I'm still sort of pinching myself."
He said he applauds Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg for supporting the passage of the same-sex marriage legislation, even though it would alienate some voters. But Rambaud said that in a state as populous and liberal as New York, "It should have happened much earlier."
Rambaud added that he hopes the growing number of same-sex marriages will turn the federal government's attention to granting gay couples the same rights as straight couples. He noted that if Ceppos were to die, he would have to pay hefty inheritance taxes that a heterosexual spouse would not be subject too, because the federal government governs inheritance and does not recognize their marriage.