A year after President Barack Obama signed a bill that started the repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” New York Rep. Eliot Engel notes the “sky hasn't fallen.”

In a statement released last week, Engel, who backed repeal of the law that for 18 years barred gay and bisexual troops from serving openly, said the military is stronger today for axing the policy.

“Despite the naysayers who claimed all sorts of dire consequences for our armed forces, it is now one year since the DADT policy became history and the sky hasn't fallen,” Engel said. “Regardless of the bumpy road which led to the repeal, one thing is for sure – America's military no longer discriminates against gay men and women who wish to serve our country – and is stronger because of it.”

“The gay community still has a long way to go before they enjoy equal rights – the next step will be marriage equality – but this was a giant leap forward.”

Engel observed that naysayers were wrong about how repeal would impact unit cohesion and recruitment: “Unit cohesion remains strong in our military and instead of a drop in recruitment, all four branches have either met or exceeded their recruiting goals.”

“Bravery and dedication have never been solely possessed by heterosexuals. As the 1964 Republican Presidential Candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater, said, 'You can be gay and still shoot straight.' The sky didn’t fall on our military after discrimination against the gay community ended, I am sure that the institution of marriage will also survive once that restriction is lifted for all Americans someday.”