LONDON, December 9, 2002 ( – Opposition parties joined Tony Blair’s Labour Government in support of enabling homosexuals to register their partnerships and enjoy equivalent legal rights to those of married couples.  Barbara Roche, the Minister for Social Exclusion and Equalities, alleged that there is an “extremely strong case” for registering same-sex relationships. “I do think society has moved on… They may have been very long, enduring relationships, but their partnership has no recognition in law.” Using typical doublespeak, she denied the change would mean “equivalency” and thus downgrade marriage. “We are not talking about marriage here,” she told BBC radio. “What we are talking about is the signing of a register.” There is no evidence that the reporter pressed her to explain how this does not mean equivalency.  Conservative Party spokesman Oliver Letwin, a prominent policymaker since the Thatcher era, failed to stand for any distinction. “Whilst we attach a huge importance to the institution of marriage, we do recognize that gay couples suffer from some serious particular grievances,” he said. The other major party, the Liberal Democrats, also said it was high time for change.

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