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Melissa Etheridge splits with partner

Singer was with Tammy Lynn Michaels for nearly nine years

Rock singer Melissa Etheridge has split from her partner Tammy Lynn Michaels after nearly nine years together.

"Melissa and Tammy Etheridge are saddened to announce that they are now separated," a representative for the Grammy-winning singer and gay rights activist told Us Weekly.

In a separate statement posted on the magazine's Web site, UsMagazine.com, the pair asked for "consideration and respect for our family as we go through this difficult period."

Etheridge, 48, and Michaels, 35, had been raising four children together, including twins to whom Michaels had given using an anonymous sperm donor in 2006. Etheridge has two older children with former partner Julie Cypher that singer David Crosby fathered.

Etheridge and Michaels held a commitment ceremony in a 2003 in California when gay marriage was not legal. They were unable to formalize their marriage when gay marriage was briefly legalized in California in 2008 for several months before it was repealed in November of the same year.