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Jul 12, 2011 11:14 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Same-Sex Couple Will Be First To Wed In Southampton Town

Jul 12, 2011 6:46 PM

It wasn’t that long ago that Alan Ceppos and Frédéric Rambaud were forced to cloak their romantic relationship for fear of unwanted attention. When the couple would travel across the country for business, for example, they would take precautionary measures and often check into a motel room after dark—with one of the two hiding in the car—to prevent anyone from seeing two men checking into a single room together.

The Water Mill couple have come a long way from the days when they had to hide. And on July 26, the pair will be the first same-sex couple to very publicly tie the knot in Southampton Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer’s office, branding a new level of legitimacy onto a relationship that has spanned nearly four decades.

The two men are the first couple to have scheduled a marriage ceremony with Ms. Schermeyer. The nuptials will take place at 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday, July 26, the first day gay and lesbian couples can get married following the implementation of the newly enacted Marriage Equality Act, which goes into effect on Sunday, July 24. Eager to get married, Mr. Ceppos came to Ms. Schermeyer’s office on Monday, June 27—the first business day after the New York State law was approved on June 24.

Ms. Schermeyer said she told him that they would not be able to be wed until July 26. The law does not take effect until July 24, which is a Sunday, Ms. Schermeyer said, so the following Monday is when couples will be able to apply for marriage licenses. Once any marriage license is issued, she said, there is a state-mandated 24-hour waiting period before a ceremony can be performed.

So far, Ms. Schermeyer said she already has three marriage ceremonies scheduled for July 26, with Mr. Ceppos and Mr. Rambaud on top of the list. Her office is helping couples prepare for marriage ceremonies and licenses by getting the paperwork done in advance.

“We were first in the door,” Mr. Ceppos said. “I guess we waited 38 years for this, so it seemed logical to be there when they started.”

Their relationship has always been on the forefront of their minds when interacting with other people, Mr. Ceppos said. The two, who own The Hamptons Honey Company, didn’t initially tell business associates they were together, for fear of being discriminated against and not being able to rent space or get a bank loan for their business.

“There’s almost never a day that goes by, even now, that somehow you’re not reminded of it in a way and you have to be a little more conscious of it,” Mr. Ceppos reflected.

One time, in the 1980s, the couple celebrated an anniversary at a hotel in Lake Como, Italy. They were sitting at a table in a restaurant with a beautiful flower bouquet centerpiece, Mr. Ceppos said.

“And the maitre d’ comes up to us, takes the flowers off the table and moves them to another table,” he said. “Again, it wasn’t homophobic by any means, it was just not thinking. It was just not thinking. And those things are going to change now.”

While the journey to acceptance has been a long one for the couple, Mr. Ceppos said he’s pleased that it’s ending on an optimistic, sunny note.

“We lived through all phases of it,” he said. “We lived through the years when you had to hide it and you couldn’t talk about it with anyone, and now we’ve come to the point where it’s publicly acknowledged. Our banker knows … everyone who works for us knows. It’s definitely been a long road, but it’s been kind of exciting and positive.”

Once married, the two will enjoy the legal protections that the state affords under the umbrella of marriage. Those protections include rights that the two have already addressed through private contracts drawn up by their attorneys, which speak to property inheritance and access that would pierce medical privacy privileges in the event that one of them is hospitalized. They also have a contract that gives each the ability to make end-of-life decisions if the other is in a dire medical condition.

“You never know when things happen,” Mr. Rambaud said. “And that’s what contracts are all about.”

Mr. Ceppos, 61, and Mr. Rambaud, who is 55, met in France while Mr. Ceppos was employed as an English teacher in a French school. “And, lo and behold, who was my first student who walked in, but Frédéric,” Mr. Ceppos recalled. “I was 23 and he was 18. That was in 1973. And so he became my first student. You can imagine, he speaks English perfectly. And that was how it happened.”

The two moved to New York about eight years after meeting. They have been living in Water Mill for 11 years and also own a home in Manhattan. “We wanted a secondary home,” Mr. Ceppos said, “and we had three criteria. The first was a two-hour radius from Manhattan. The second was by a beach. And the third was gay friendly.”

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By Sag Native (54), East Hampton on Jul 17, 11 8:59 PM
By jendavis (2), southampton on Jul 18, 11 9:29 AM
Congratulations & best wishes for many years of wedded bliss!
By EastEnder2 (30), Hampton Bays on Jul 18, 11 11:26 AM
By concerned citizen (41), Hampton Bays on Jul 19, 11 4:37 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By jose1 (28), southampton on Jul 19, 11 4:40 PM
Congratulations & mazel tov!
Sorry to miss the big day.
Love from srq.
By Cher (1), Sarasota on Jul 23, 11 11:41 AM