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Elton John to marry partner as Britain legalizes gay marriage

Musician Elton John (L) and his husband David Furnish pose at the 2014 Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Party in West Hollywood, California
Musician Elton John (L) and his husband David Furnish pose at the 2014 Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Party in West Hollywood, California

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British singer Elton John will marry long-time partner David Furnish now that Britain's legalization of gay marriage has been put into effect, the singer said in an interview on Monday.

John, 67, told NBC's "Today" host Matt Lauer that he and Furnish, who were one of the first couples to become united when Britain legalized the Civil Partnership Act in December 2005, will marry in a small ceremony this year, as early as May.

"We'll do it very quietly," the singer said. "But we will do it and it will be a joyous occasion and we will have our children."

John and Furnish have two children born via surrogate, Zachary, 3, and one-year-old Elijah. The singer said he was "very proud of Britain" and the progress made to make gay marriage legal.

"Having our civil partnership was an incredible breakthrough for people that have campaigned for a long time - through the '60s and the '50s in England when it was so hard to be gay and hard to be open about it. And it was a criminal act," the singer said.

"So for this legislation to come through is joyous, and we should celebrate it," he added.

John is one Britain's most prominent musicians and gay celebrities, and has often used his status in the music world to make a statement on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. Earlier this year, the singer wrote a 500-word statement criticizing Russia's ban on homosexual propaganda.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the country's first gay marriages last week when the law came into force, saying that no one should be denied their right to marry because of their sexual orientation.

The decision has caused rifts in Cameron's Conservative Party where many are opposed to same-sex marriage as it goes against their Christian beliefs.

The 2005 Civil Partnership Act allowed same-sex couples to have the same legal rights as marriage, but not the distinction of marriage.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Andrew Hay)

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