It passed by a landslide. In the House of Representatives the final tally was 342-67. The Senate was just as lopsided, easily voting in favor by an 85-15 margin. Then in late September, less than two months before the 1996 election, President Bill Clinton signed it -- and with that the Defense of Marriage Act became the law of the land.

A lot has changed in the decade and a half since that legislation first came to be. At the time of passage, marriage for same-sex couples was illegal in all 50 states; now it is legal in six and counting. Sodomy laws, still legal as recently as 2003, have since been deemed unconstitutional. And “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” -- just three years old back then -- is now on its way to becoming another relic of the discriminatory past, thanks in large part to the countless individuals who didn’t stop demanding that old prejudices not keep us from starting down a new path.

The chorus of voices speaking out against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has grown since then as well -- both in size, and more recently, in stature. In February, the Justice Department announced that at President Obama’s instruction it would stop defending DOMA in court. Specifically, it would stop defending Section 3 of the law, which states that “the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Citing “a documented history of discrimination,” the president determined that “classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny,” and that “Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional.”

But not defending a law in court is different than having it off the books altogether, and last month the president took that important final step and announced his support of the Respect For Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA and allow the federal government to provide benefits for married same-sex couples. Hearings on the repeal began last week, producing some serious moments as well as some (sort of) funny ones, but the bill’s legislative future is still very much up in the air.

A few years ago it would have been unthinkable that Congress might even consider repealing DOMA. But time has a way of changing minds, and so it is here too. Perhaps no two minds better exemplify the “evolution” that is possible on the subject of same-sex marriage than Bob Barr, the man who wrote the bill back in 1996, and Bill Clinton, the one who signed it into law. Both men now stand in firm opposition to DOMA, and in support of its repeal.

With all that’s going on in Washington, it would be easy to let this issue fall through the cracks, or to accept that the Justice Department’s new approach means that everything is alright. It is not. While DOMA may have been diminished somewhat, it still remains the law of the land, and it is just as discriminatory and unjust now as it was back in 1996. Please tell Congress that the time has come to end this policy for good, and to allow the federal government to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples and to provide them with the same benefits as any other married couple.