Melissa Etheridge in limbo after gay marriage ruling

LOS ANGELES Tue May 26, 2009 6:49pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Singer Melissa Etheridge, who never wed her partner during California's brief legalization of same-sex marriages, said on Tuesday the couple were now in limbo after the California Supreme Court affirmed a state ban on gay marriage.

Etheridge, 47, said last October that she and actress Tammy Lynn Michaels planned to marry to legalize a ceremony they had in 2003.

But they never went through with the wedding in part because of the threat that it could be banned again, Etheridge told Reuters.

"I wanted to wait until I knew that when I step into City Hall and I'm there with my wife and that clerk signs that piece of paper, I want to know that it's free and clear," she said.

The California Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a voter-approved proposition cast in November defining marriage as between a man and a woman, but said the marriages last year of 18,000 same-sex couples were still legal.

"My wife and I consider ourselves to be married, we would like that to be recognized some day civically," Etheridge said in a phone interview.

"What if this was the 1960s and it was like, 'OK these interracial marriages can be married but these can't.' You can't put this back in the bottle," said Etheridge, whose hit songs include "Come To My Window" and "I'm the Only One".

The singer and Michaels, who appeared in several episodes of lesbian-themed cable television show "The L Word," are raising four children together.

"Who will be happy tonight? How do I explain this to my children?" Etheridge said.

Chat show host Ellen DeGeneres, whose August marriage to actress Portia de Rossi remains valid, spoke out against Tuesday's court ruling.

"One day, when everyone is treated with full equality, we'll look back and realize how wrong this was," DeGeneres said in a statement on the Twitter page for her TV show.

George Takei, who played "Star Trek" crew member Mr. Sulu on TV and in movies, also criticized the decision.

Takei and longtime partner Brad Altman wed last September, after the California Supreme Court made same-sex unions legal statewide in a May 2008 ruling.

"Nothing's changed with our marriage, but I think the California Supreme Court has changed. This ruling is a decision to be indecisive," Takei told Reuters.

The weddings of DeGeneres and Takei were the most prominent same-sex unions in California last year before the November ballot measure that banned gay weddings.

(Editing by Jill Serjeant)

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