Straight Up with Sherri

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Tom Purcell on Gay Marriage

When Heterosexual Men Marry (Each Other)

The law of unintended consequences always produces interesting results. Here’s a doozy.

Two heterosexual fellows in Canada, invoking their rights under Canada’s recently passed same-sex marriage legislation, have announced their intentions to marry. Drinking pals Bill Dalrymple, 56, and Bryan Pinn, 65, intend to marry not because they are gay but for the tax breaks.

News of the pending engagement didn’t sit well with same-sex marriage activist Bruce Walker, a Toronto lawyer. He complained that marriage should be for love.

Well, who is Walker to criticize? He used to argue that if two consenting adults of the same sex wanted to marry, it was nobody’s business but theirs. Now that two fellows of the same sex want to marry – perhaps to qualify for family discounts at the neighborhood pub -- what business is it of his?

Where Canada is concerned, marital preconditions are over, and good riddance.

It used to be that marriage was sacred. A man would leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife as one flesh. It was a powerful commitment, a duty, an institution. What’s worse, it meant you weren’t allowed to see another woman naked for the rest of your life.

It used to be that governments gave breaks to married folks because it was ultimately good for society. The family has always been the building block of a healthy society, and encouraging family life was good for everyone.

It’s true that heterosexual men and women have made a mess out of traditional marriage. Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce – and that only pertains to folks who bother marrying. Many heterosexual folks prefer cohabitation, as it provides many of the goodies of marriage without the hassles.

But cohabitation frequently fails and men and women become so suspicious of each other, they end up living alone. That means millions of single women spend their free time playing with their two cats, while millions of single men are slumped over a bar stool.

That’s why those two heterosexual Canadian fellows may be on to something. Perhaps more people should marry their buddies.

If single heterosexual women married their female friends, they’d avoid the loneliness of single life, while enjoying the benefits of marriage. If one was a member of a country club, for instance, the other would be able to join as her “spouse.” The only downside of women marrying their friends would be a significant increase in four-cat households, but then you can’t have everything.

Single heterosexual men could enjoy similar benefits from marrying their buddies. They would never spend their weekends window shopping at the Crate and Barrel with their “spouse,” but business would be brisk at the Keg and Barrel.

You’d find married heterosexual fellows doing all kinds of things they could never do with a real wife. The natural course of any man who is single long enough, after all, is to wake up in a pile of dirty laundry still clutching the tequila bottle he began sipping out of a few days before. At least if he married a buddy, he’d be able to self-destruct with a little company.

Such a married couple would sit up all night drinking beer and watching Beavis and Butthead reruns. They’d argue over who is hotter, Liv Tyler or Halle Berry (and Halle wins hands down). If a fight broke out and guacamole dip ended up all over the rug, who cares.

Such an existence would be unthinkable with a wife. A real wife would never guide her husband to the bathroom after he won a drinking contest down at the VFW, and she certainly wouldn’t celebrate his victory the following morning by bringing him a Big Mac, a large Coke and a bottle of aspirin.

Perhaps America ought to follow the lead of its courageous neighbors up north. Instead of working to strengthen marriage as an institution, we ought to broaden it. We ought to make its benefits available to any consenting adults who want at them.

Such as married drinking pals, who deserve the right to spend their tax savings buying extra rounds at the pub.

(Tom Purcell’s e-mail address is; his Web address is

Tom, I don't have ANY cats, I don't shop for crates or barrels, and I could probably out drink you at the VFW ( I may require an escort to the bathroom though). Oh, and my divorce should be final within 60 days.