Bishop Peter Anthony Libasci of the Roman Catholic diocese of Manchester is asking Catholics to pray for the repeal of New Hampshire's 2-year-old gay marriage law.

Republican lawmakers have said they will consider state Rep. David Bates' bill that would make New Hampshire the first state to legislatively overturn a gay marriage law soon after the January 10 presidential primary.

Bates' bill would replace the law with civil unions for any unmarried adults, including relatives, and would allow anyone to refuse to recognize such unions.

Approximately 2,000 gay and lesbian couples have married since the law took effect.

In an open letter posted on the diocese's website, Libasci suggests that the marriage law needs to be repealed because it has negatively affected society.

“Although many children are raised with great love and sacrifice in situations other than the traditional two-parent family, we would be deceiving ourselves if we thought that society has not felt the impact of these developments,” Libasci wrote. “Our parishes, schools, government agencies, charitable organizations are reeling under the weight of dealing with the results of the breakdown of family life.”

“In this regard, I am encouraged that the New Hampshire General Court will have the opportunity in this coming year to vote to restore the traditional understanding of marriage, and I sincerely hope that the General Court will accomplish this important task. … May the year 2012 be a year in which we recapture the age-old knowledge of the place of marriage and the family as the foundations of society.”

He then offered Catholics a “Prayer for the family.”