DeGeneres and Takei Vow to Marry Partners

Oh, my! George Takei and Ellen DeGeneres, two of Hollywood's unambiguously gay actors are the first to announce they will marry their partners under California's new same sex marriage law.

Cultural critics agree that most of America is ready for a gay Ozzie and Harriet or Ward and June Cleaver in their favorite stars and that the surrounding publicity will likely help their careers.

"It's a move that sends an important message to the heartland while garnering tons of press for the celebrities themselves," Michael Musto, columnist for the Village Voice, told "It's a 'good for them and good for me' kind of action."

DeGeneres, host of the syndicated talk show "Ellen," has said she will marry her partner of four years, Australian actress Portia de Rossi, 36, who had roles in "Ally McBeal" and "Arrested Development."

The 50-year-old film actress previously had a widely publicized affair-gone-wrong with Anne Heche before dating Alexandra Mary Hedison, 38, of the "L Word."

The Emmy Award-winning actress has come a long way since her character Ellen Morgan came out to a therapist played by Oprah Winfrey in the fourth season of her groundbreaking series, "Ellen."

Mr. Sulu Marries

George Takei, the original Mr. Sulu from television's "Star Trek," said he will marry longtime partner Brad Altman this summer. For the last two years, Takei, 71, has served as announcer on "The Howard Stern Show" on satellite radio.

"Our California dream is reality," Takei wrote on his Web site. "At long last, the barrier to full marriage rights for same-sex couples has been torn down."

Takei, who also had a role on the television Sci-Fi series "Heroes" last year, has been an outspoken advocate for the same-sex marriage bill, which the California Assembly just passed this week, allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.

California is the first state to intentionally amend the definition of marriage as between "two persons," not between a man and a woman. For the past several years, same-sex couples have flocked to either Canada or Massachusetts, where the courts legalized same-sex marriage.

The state goes further than Vermont and Connecticut, which have passed legislation allowing more strictly defined "civil unions."

Musto, who wrote the cover story for Out magazine, "The Gay Closet and Why the Stars Won't Come Out and Play," said sealing the marriage contract won't be career-damaging for either DeGeneres or Takei.

"Ellen is America's sweetheart and has been out of the closet in the press, doing so a tiny bit more on her show lately," he said. "People have known for years that, 'Yep, she's gay.' I've been urging her to be more out on her show -- she seemed a bit ambiguous for a while, though she's been out in the media -- so, I applaud this exciting step forward.

"In George's case, it can only help to get renewed interest in his career," he said.

Hollywood's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

For years, the entertainment industry has held a kind of celebrity "don't ask, don't tell" policy that keeps some stars in the closet and others open, but not flaunting their relationships in the institution of marriage.

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