Republican leadership in the New Hampshire Legislature has said a bill that would repeal gay marriage in the state won't be considered until after the state's presidential primary.

House Republican Leader D.J. Bettencourt told the Associated Press that a vote on the issue most likely won't come up until January 11 or January 18.

“The presidential candidates have a hard enough time getting their message out,” Bettencourt told the news service. “This is the time for them to shine. We want them to get all the attention possible.”

Lawmakers reconvene on January 4. But instead of immediately taking up the bill that would replace the state's 2-year-old gay marriage law with civil unions for any unmarried adults, lawmakers will wait until after the state's January 10 primary.

However, the issue has already seeped into the race for the GOP nomination.

Rick Perry in October praised GOP lawmakers' efforts to repeal the law, while Mitt Romney said he supports repeal of the law when a gay Vietnam veteran asked his position last week.

(Related: Republicans call on lawmakers not to repeal New Hampshire gay marriage law.)