Ricky Martin takes Spanish citizenship in order to marry

Benicio del Toro also granted Spanish passport at Cabinet meeting

Singer Ricky Martin was granted Spanish nationality on Friday at a Cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. After the meeting at the La Moncloa seat of government, reporters were told that the Cabinet had given Spanish nationality to the 39-year-old Puerto Rican pop star, who had requested citizenship in order to marry his partner, economist Carlos González. It was also announced that citizenship had been granted to 44-year-old actor Benicio del Toro, also born in Puerto Rico.

Martin first gained fame as a member of Latin boy band Menudo, going on to sell more than 60 million albums worldwide in his solo career. He has also worked as an actor; he got his first break on US television in 1994 when he played a Puerto Rican singer, Miguel Morez, on the popular soap opera General Hospital. He filed for Spanish nationality last March on the basis that he has family, including his grandmother, residing in Spain. Martin registered his Madrid address a few months ago as a home owned by his friend, model Esther Cañadas.

The Living la vida loca singer said that although he could have married González - with whom he is raising his two three-year-old children - in the various US states that recognize gay marriage, he chose to do so in Spain to show his support for the Zapatero government's work in defense of gay rights.

Martin publicly recognized his homosexuality last year in a post on his website that stated: "Today I accept my homosexuality as a gift that life has given me. I feel blessed to be who I am."

The singer said on Friday that he has begun to write his memoirs, something he believes will help him release "things that have burdened me for a long time, things that were very heavy to bear." He said he kept quiet about his sexuality because loved ones warned him against speaking out, telling him that "many people in the world were not ready to accept my truth, my nature."

"Letting myself be seduced by fear destroyed my life," he said, adding that he takes full responsibility for all his decisions and actions, and no longer fears his nature. On the contrary, it gives him "courage and strength," something he values more than ever since becoming a father.

"This is exactly what I need for myself and my loved ones, especially now that I am a father to two little ones, who are true beams of light. I have to live up to them."

Martin's twin sons, Matteo and Valentino, were born via a surrogate mother in 2008.