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Singer Melissa Etheridge to wed after gay marriage ruling

Singer Melissa Etheridge poses for photographers after receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles September 27, 2011. REU
Singer Melissa Etheridge poses for photographers after receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles September 27, 2011. REU

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. rock singer Melissa Etheridge on Wednesday announced plans to marry partner Linda Wallem after the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings paved the way for gay marriage in California, the couple's home state.

Etheridge, 52, came out in 1993 and was an early and prominent gay rights advocate in the entertainment industry.

"I look forward to exercising my American civil liberties and getting fully, completely and legally married this year to my true love of over three years, Linda Wallem," Etheridge said in a statement.

"Once again our constitution stands strong," the "Come to My Window" singer added. "All men, and women, and everything in between are created equal."

Wallem, 52, is a creator and executive producer on the cable television series "Nurse Jackie."

The Supreme Court affirmed on Wednesday a lower court ruling that struck down California's voter-approved ban on gay marriage. The state would become the United States' 13th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

The country's highest court also struck down a key part of a the federal law, Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), that denied benefits to same-sex married couples.

The Supreme Court's rulings reverberated in Hollywood, where some of the entertainment industry's most prominent personalities advocate gay rights.

Hollywood power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have said in the past that they would not get married until gay couples could as well.

Comedienne and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, an early gay rights advocate, tweeted after the ruling on Wednesday, "It's a supremely wonderful day for equality. Prop 8 is over, and so is DOMA. Congratulations everyone. And I mean everyone."

Like Etheridge, DeGeneres was one of the first stars to publicly say she was a lesbian, exploring the topic on her TV comedy series "Ellen" in the late 1990s. She is married to actress Portia de Rossi.

"We stand tall today. #DomaStruckDown So many fought for so long. Be proud, the prejudice are now the minority," singer and prominent gay rights supporter Lady Gaga wrote to her more than 38 million Twitter followers.

"Big news from the Supreme Court. Goodbye #DOMA #Prop8. Hello #equality," tweeted Ben Affleck, the director and star of Oscar-winning film "Argo," while actor Leonardo DiCaprio tweeted the decision was a "historic day."

Singer Cyndi Lauper, whose True Colors Fund promotes gay rights and addresses homelessness in the gay and lesbian community, said, "Both of these decisions not only impact the lives of gay couples, but of gay and transgender youth who struggle to find acceptance from their family and friends."

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey, Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Cynthia Osterman)

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