Olson—an experienced Supreme Court litigator and solicitor general during the George W. Bush administration—allowed he might have made the case differently with the judges present, but his commitment to the point was clear. Nonetheless, a talk by Olson and Evan Wolfson at the Washington Ideas Forum Tuesday had the tempered optimism of fighters who know the end is in sight.

“We are winning, but winning is not won,” Wolfson said. “It’s not a done deal until it’s done. It’s not going to waft in on waves of inevitability.”

Wolfson has been leading the fight for gay marriage for more than three decades; Olson, alongside Democratic lawyer David Boies, has recently been one of its most high-profile advocates. The men were chummy, despite a kerfuffle this spring over Jo Becker’s Forcing the Spring, a book some LGBT advocates felt aggrandized Boies and Olson at the expense of Wolfson and others.