- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 16, 2002

OSLO (AP) Finance Minister Per-Kristian Foss has "married" his companion, becoming the first member of a Norwegian government to enter a binding homosexual partnership.

Under a 1993 Norwegian law, homosexuals and lesbians can enter legal partnerships with all the rights and obligations of a "marriage," except adoption and church weddings. Norway was the second country to pass such law after Denmark.

Mr. Foss, a Conservative, "married" long-term partner Jan Erik Knarbakk in a ceremony at the Norwegian Embassy in Stockholm.

The Norwegian Finance Ministry confirmed the event but said Mr. Foss was giving no interviews or comment because it is a personal matter.

"Yes, we entered a partnership at the embassy in Stockholm on Friday, January 4," Mr. Foss told the Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv. "But beyond that, it is a private matter."

Mr. Knarbakk is a top manager in the Schibsted publishing concern, and the two have been described in the news media as being among Norway's most powerful couples.

Mr. Foss is a member of a three-party coalition government led by Lutheran clergyman Kjell Magne Bondevik of the Christian Democratic Party, which opposes "homosexual marriage."

However, Mr. Foss was openly homosexual and living with his partner when he joined the government, and it was not an issue in his appointment to the powerful post of finance minister.

Norwegians are broadly tolerant of homosexuals and traditionally respect the private lives of public figures, so the union was noted briefly, without comment, by the news media.

About 100 couples a year enter homosexual partnerships in the capital city of Oslo.

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