Congressman Eliot L. Engel issued the following statement on joining the House LGBT Caucus:
“More than 20 years ago, I was one of the very few House Members who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA made same-sex couples and LGBT Americans invisible to their government. Thankfully, the Supreme Court eventually struck it down, but I voted against it in 1996 because it was the right thing to do. I voted against it because I believed every man and woman deserved the right to love whomever they choose, without fear of discrimination from their government. I voted against it because I knew those who stand against equality stand on the wrong side of history.
“Now, the American people are on our side. The majority of Americans see what I saw in 1996: that every American, regardless of their sexual orientation, deserves equal treatment under the law. That principle has guided me throughout my years in Congress, and I have consistently cast my vote to defend and protect those in the LGBT community because of it.
“I am proud to be the lead sponsor every Congress of a resolution supporting the National Day of Silence, which is an annual day of observance in schools aimed at bringing attention to the bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
“Joining the House LGBT Caucus is the next step in my 20-plus year record of working to advance LGBT rights. I am so proud to be part of this bipartisan group of lawmakers, and I hope we will be able to work together to ensure equality for all Americans. Our country has come a long way, but the LGBT community still has obstacles to overcome. Together I hope we can pass federal LGBT nondiscrimation legislation, protect LGBT Americans from hate crimes, and continue to make progress toward our goal of equal dignity for every American.”