The following is a statement from Rep. Eliot Engel regarding President Barack Obama's memorandum granting of benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.
"As we pass the mid-point of National Gay & Lesbian Pride Month, President Obama has taken an important action which is important to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, by granting benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. However, this is just the first step in what will be a long journey.
"I look forward to the coming months and years of his Administration, and fighting to provide the LGBT community with the rights and privileges they deserve as Americans. I know the President has said he is against the Department of Defense's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I remain hopeful that he will work towards swiftly repealing them. As one of the few Members of Congress to vote against DOMA, I will continue to work with the President and my colleagues in Congress to see this happen.
"Defending the rights of the LGBT community is very important to me. I led the charge to have the Office of Special Council restore the rights of LGBT federal employees and to remove Scott Bloch from his leadership position, after he had taken the initiative to remove their anti-discrimination protections. His anti-gay rhetoric was not only offensive, but dangerous. Annually, I sponsor a resolution in support of the National Day of Silence, to provide a voice to the plight of some members of the LGBT community. I also remain hopeful the New York State Legislature will be able to overcome its divide and finally deliver to Governor David Paterson a bill to permit same-sex marriage in New York.
"The LGBT community has fought for so long to gain equal rights, and today's actions are a key step towards achieving full equality."