As the Gang of Six and other Senators work to avert an unprecedented national default yesterday, something else unprecedented happened. There was a hearing on the Respect Marriage Act, a bill that would overturn the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that passed in 1996.

Much has changed in the 15 years since this discriminatory bill became the law of the land. Same-sex marriage becoming legal in New York is just the latest and most exciting example of that change. In a piece in The Atlantic, writer and author E. J. Graff contrasts Wednesday’s hearings with those that took place in 1996. “It’s hard, now, to remember that foreign country, which was almost unrecognizably hostile to lesbians and gay men,” she writes. President Clinton signed DOMA into law. President Obama now publicly supports its repeal. Clinton now embraces marriage equality. Obama continues to evolve on the issue.

The Third Way report, written by Lanae Erickson and Sarah Trumble, puts a spotlight on one of the things I revere most about the character of the American people. It may take a while and require more patience than anyone pushing for civil rights should have, but on issues of fairness and equality the people of the United States always come around.