WASHINGTON — Both of Hawaii’s U.S. senators celebrated the passage Tuesday of the Respect for Marriage Act, which protects marriage equality in federal law.

The bill passed the Senate 61-36 with Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono, both Democrats, voting in favor of the legislation.

Twelve Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in approving the legislation, which now heads to the House for final approval before heading to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

The Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act with the help of 12 Republicans. Nick Grube/Civil Beat/2022

“BREAKING: We just passed legislation to protect marriage equality nationwide,” Schatz said on Twitter. “Everyone should be free to marry who they love.”

Hirono issued her own statement after the vote, one that criticized the U.S. Supreme Court for overturning Roe v. Wade, which had protected the right to abortion and forced Democrats to pass legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages from future antagonistic decisions.

“When the right-wing Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to reproductive freedom, it became clear that this was not the end of possible assaults on our fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to marry who you love,” Hirono said in a written statement.

“With this MAGA Court’s sights set on our constitutional rights, I’m glad the Senate came together in a bipartisan manner to pass the Respect for Marriage Act. This critical legislation will give couples in same-sex and interracial marriages peace of mind that their unions will be protected at the federal level.”

If the Respect for Marriage Act becomes law, it will not force states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Instead, it will simply require states to recognize those marriages as legitimate, even if performed elsewhere.

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