Let us note, in passing, that this is not the most featherbrained thing I’ve ever speculated on. I’ve done much worse than this. I’ll leave it to your imagination.
That said: As I’m sure absolutely all of you know, when a man and a woman who bear coats of arms marry, they can marshall their arms, that is, display them together in a variety of rigidly controlled configurations, in order to indicate their marriage.
So I was wondering how this would work for a same-sex couple? After all, both countries (Belgium and the Netherlands) that recognize same-sex marriage have a heraldic tradition, though I don’t know if they have functioning colleges of arms; as does Canada, which will be getting it Any Day Now.
My guess would be that, in the case of a male couple, presuming that both men were armigers in their own right, the closest analogy would be a woman who is a heiress to arms, that is, inherits the arms of her father since she lacks brothers. (A woman can display the arms of her father without those being actually her arms, much as she might live on her father’s estate without it belonging to her; she can subsequently come into possession of both, if her father dies without male issue.)
A man who marries an heiress displays her arms on an inescutcheon of pretence - a miniature shield in and covering the middle of his own. So I presume both male partners might bear their own arms with their spouse’s arms marshalled on such an inescutcheon.
But wait! How to display these two sets of arms in the marital achievement? Well, we could fall back on bearing the shields accollées, which covers a multitude of sins (such as when one spouse displays an honour to which the other spouse is not entitled, such as impaled arms of office, a chivalric order, etc.)
As for which shield would be to the sinister and which to the dexter - I suppose we could leave it up to the spouses, or do it based on rank if that’s applicable.
In the end, Tom and my achievement would end up as, for example, my shield with an inescutcheon for Tom, accollée with his shiled with an inescutcheon for me.
Someone else can work up the lesbian example.
Thoughts? If any?
(Yes, I’ve been thinking strange thoughts; being stuck in a hospital room with nothing to read but my copy of Julian Franklyn’s Shield and Crest will do that to a boy.)