Therese Horcasitas’ recent letter, “Protect the Defense of Marriage Act,” relies on serious mischaracterizations of the laws surrounding marriage in the United States in order to attack the relationships of same-sex couples.

Here are accurate data that better represent the issue at hand.

It is true many states have laws or constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage, including Louisiana. However, these prohibitions are much less universal than Therese Horcasitas asserts.

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, six states and the District of Columbia have laws providing full marriage equality, four states recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions and nine states have laws providing for either civil unions or domestic partnerships, which offer some level of protections and benefits less than that of marriage. (This data was current as of June, but of course some laws might have changed since then.)

In other words, same-sex couples have some substantial level of legal protections in 19 of the 50 states, which is a very different picture from the sweeping prohibitions Horcasitas asserts in her letter.

Furthermore, numerous recent surveys show the legal recognition of same-sex marriage continues to receive broad support among Americans. A May Gallup poll found that 53 percent of adults in the United States agreed that marriage between same-sex couples should be recognized as legally valid with the same rights as any other marriage. This comports strongly with an ABC News poll from March and a CNN poll from April, which showed 53 percent and 51 percent of adults, respectively, in support of marriage equality.

Finally, it should be noted that no church can ever be forced by federal or state law to perform religious rites that contradict its beliefs; the First Amendment guarantees this protection absolutely. Likewise, the First Amendment requires that the government refrain from legislating particular religious beliefs into law.

Mere animus against same-sex couples is simply not a sufficient reason to deny legal recognition of their relationships, nor are religious beliefs a valid reason to dictate the policy of state and federal governments.

Matthew Patterson

board member, Capital City Alliance

Baton Rouge