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Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi to marry

News.com.au: "Australian actress Portia de Rossi is to wed her long-time lesbian love Ellen DeGeneres following a California Supreme Court ruling to dump the state's ban on gay marriages.

An audience member at the Ellen DeGeneres Show told TMZ.com that DeGeneres made the announcement today as the show was being taped with de Rossi watching from the sidelines. Fans erupted into applause, giving the pair a standing ovation. It came after California's Supreme Court effectively left same-sex couples in America's most populous state free to tie the knot.

In an opinion that analysts say could have nationwide implications for the issue, the seven-member panel voted 4-3 in favour of plaintiffs who argued that restricting marriage to men and women was discriminatory.

"Limiting the designation of marriage to a union 'between a man and a woman' is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute," California Chief Justice Ron George said in the written opinion."

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Before today only one US state - Massachusetts - allowed gay marriage, although California, New Jersey and Vermont have legislation which grants same-sex partners many of the same legal rights as married couples.

Plaintiffs and gay rights activists erupted with joy after the victory.

"It's the best day of my life, quite honestly I'm thrilled for all of us," Diane Olson said.

In San Francisco, couples immediately began lining up at the city clerk's office for marriage licences, even though officials said they will not be able to issue any for at least 30 days, when the decision takes effect.

Meanwhile, DeGeneres' ex-lover Anne Heche - who went on to marry a man and have children - is going broke.

The actress says she can no longer afford to pay nearly $15,000 a month in child and spousal support because she's unemployed after her show Men in Trees was axed.

"I am continuing to look for work but I have no offers pending and the impending strike by the Screen Actors Guild reduces my prospects for work even further," Heche, 38, writes in court papers.

A judge gave her a brief reprieve on Wednesday, saying she didn't have to hand over her next support payment to ex-husband Coley Laffoon, 34.

But Superior Court Judge Gail Ruderman Feuer ordered the actress to provide updated income and expense information.

In a court declaration, Heche indicated that she can no longer afford to pay the $14,798 in monthly support, along with private school tuition for her six-year-old son Homer, the mortgage on her house in Canada where Men in Trees was filmed, rent on her Los Angeles home and car expenses.

"Since January 18, 2008, I have been unemployed and had no income from employment except for one very short-term contract for a movie role for which I received a total of $65,000, approximately the amount I received for one episode of Men in Trees," she writes.

She adds: "I do receive some residuals from previous acting work. However, the amounts are nominal and are offset by recurring business expenses that must be paid whether or not I am working."