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Melissa and Tammy Etheridge break up

Melissa and Tammy Etheridge have separated.

"We ask for consideration and respect for our family as we go through this difficult period," the pair said in a statement.

The couple had been together for almost nine years. Melissa, 48, and Tammy, 35, held a commitment ceremony in 2003. They had planned to legally marry in 2008, but missed the chance when Proposition 8 passed.

It is not known if Tammy Etheridge will reclaim her former name, Tammy Lynn Michaels. In 2006, she gave birth to twins, a girl named Johnnie Rose and a boy named Miller. The twins were conceived through an anonymous sperm donor.

Melissa Etheridge has two children with former partner Julie Cypher: a girl named Bailey, 13, and a boy named Beckett, 11. Both were fathered by rocker David Crosby.