Attorney General Eric Holder on Saturday called increasing support for gay rights “exhilarating” and “gratifying.”

Holder put in a surprise appearance at the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) 18th annual National Dinner in Washington, D.C.

Holder told the more than 3,000 people gathered at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center that this year's list of achievements were enough “to fill ten annual dinners.”

“I have seen few things in my lifetime more exhilarating or more profoundly gratifying than this nation's resolute turn away from intolerance and toward acceptance, respect and equality for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters,” Holder said.

“I will always be proud of the role the Justice Department has played in securing and implementing the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in United States v. Windsor,” he said, a reference to the 2013 case that struck down a critical provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and that has been repeatedly cited in cases that have overturned state bans on gay marriage. (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

Earlier in the day, Holder announced that the United States is now recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples in 32 states, plus the District of Columbia.