Melissa Etheridge is an American singer and songwriter. She is known for her mixture of confessional lyrics, pop-based folk-rock, and raspy, smoky vocals. She has also been an iconic gay and lesbian activist since her public coming out in January 1993.
Etheridge came out publicly as a lesbian in January 1993 at the Triangle Ball, a gay celebration of President Bill Clinton's first inauguration. Etheridge supported Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and since her coming out has been famous as a gay rights activist. She is also a committed advocate for environmental issues and in 2006, she toured the US and Canada using biodiesel.
Etheridge had a long-term partnership with Julie Cypher, and their relationship occasionally received press coverage. During this partnership, Cypher gave birth to two children, but in 2000, Cypher began to reconsider her sexuality and they announced they were separating. In 2001, Etheridge documented her breakup with Cypher and other experiences in her memoir. In 2003, Etheridge became engaged to actress Tammy Lynn Michaels and they had a commitment ceremony in Malibu, California. In 2008, after the Supreme Court of California overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage, Etheridge announced that she and Michaels were planning to marry but when California's Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage was passed Etheridge announced that she would not pay her state taxes as an act of civil disobedience. In 2010, Etheridge and Michaels announced they had separated.