In a big step forward, the marriage equality bill just passed the New York state senate, 33-29. New York is on the verge of becoming the sixth and most populous state to enshrine marriage equality into law, a huge victory for the national gay rights movement, and a huge victory for equality itself.

This is another major defeat for those self-described “conservatives” who hate government except when it’s enforcing a form of legalized discrimination that comports with their prejudices. But this isn’t about them. It’s about everyone but them.

What just happened in New York is not just a big legal breakthrough; it’s an important chapter in a larger story. For the first time this year, majorities of Americans support legalized gay marriage, which means majorities of Americans are not prepared to assign subpar status to the intimate relationships of gays and lesbians. Majorities of Americans no longer think it’s acceptable to tell people they have no right to partake in a basic human ritual that is viewed by the religious as sacred — or viewed by the nonreligious as merely fundamental to life as we live it — on the basis of sexual orientation alone.

One can only hope that tonight’s events will hasten the arrival of a future moment in which this national dispute — which seems jarringly ridiculous even today — is studied by students from elementary school on up as a historical relic, as a long-settled skirmish in the larger, ongoing battle to ensure that our government, and our society at large, treat all Americans as deserving of full equality.

Congratulations to all the gays and lesbians in New York and elsewhere who — through sheer force of will and determination, against truly unthinkable levels of adversity and hostility — have taken another step in the direction of forcing New York, America, and the world to recognize their fundamental humanity.