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Norway's finance minister marries his gay partner

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

OSLO, Norway -- In a breakthrough for gay rights and a show of tolerance by Norway's political right, the country's Conservative finance minister has married his longtime companion.

The union, first reported Tuesday, came a year after Per-Kristian Foss announced he was gay -- and won a standing ovation from his party's Oslo chapter.

Foss married Jan Erik Knarbakk earlier this month, becoming the first member of a Norwegian government to enter a legally binding gay partnership. The Finance Ministry confirmed the wedding took place at the Norwegian Embassy in Sweden, but said Foss declined further comment.

"Yes, we entered a partnership at the embassy in Stockholm on Friday, Jan. 4," Foss was quoted as telling the Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv. "But beyond that, it is a private matter."

Norway prides itself on its progressiveness on gay rights. In 1993, it became the second country, after Denmark, to legally recognize homosexual unions.

Now, same-sex marriages are allowed in many western European countries and in other places, including parts of Australia.

In 2000, Vermont became the first -- and only -- U.S. state to recognize same-sex unions.

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