Melissa and Tammy Etheridge

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Since the California Supreme Court ruled that gay citizens should be allowed to marry in May 2008, more than 18,000 same-sex couples have tied the knot. What will happen to newlywed couples like Ellen DeGeneres and her wife, Portia de Rossi, now that Proposition 8 has passed?

Melissa says their fate is still undecided. "What I've heard is the courts are trying to decide [if] this nullifies those [18,000] marriages or if they can still go forward," she says. "If you nullify it, just taking rights away from people blows my mind. But if you okay it, then Ellen and Portia can be married, but Tammy and I can't? What sense does that make?"

Oftentimes, Tammy says people get hung up on the word "marriage" when discussing gay couples. "I would like to see more people looking at just making sure we all have the same rights," she says. "Who cares what kind of fistful of letters you want to call your relationship?"

Currently, Melissa and Tammy are bound by a civil union, which was made legal by former California Governor Gray Davis. They may be recognized as domestic partners, but Melissa says this classification does not guarantee them the same rights as married couples. For instance, Melissa says they can't file the same income tax return. "There's a lot of things people take for granted in a marriage—[like] combining two incomes into a household," she says.

In a recent blog posting about the passage of Proposition 8, Melissa vented her frustration by saying she would stop paying taxes. "I tell people I have until April to make true on that blog," she says. "That was [me] letting off a lot of steam. What I wanted to do was show the absurdity of a populous thinking they can take a right away or deny someone a right ... and yet feel completely fine taking 100 percent of our taxes. It doesn't make sense."
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FROM: Oprah Fridays: Melissa Etheridge Speaks Out
Published on November 14, 2008

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