New Hampshire State Rep. David Bates on Tuesday altered course in his campaign to end gay marriage in the state, the Portsmouth Patch reported.

Bates, who last year introduced, then withdrew, a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union, is now calling for a non-binding ballot question on whether the state should replace marriage for gay couples with civil unions.

At a press conference, Bates, a Republican, said he would offer the referendum as an amendment to his already introduced bill which would repeal the 2-year-old law. The legislation would allow any two unmarried adults, including relatives, to enter a civil union. If approved, New Hampshire would become the first state to legislatively overturn marriage equality.

Bates, an ardent opponent of marriage equality who has bankrolled a campaign to promote his bill, said the amendment would end criticism that his bill failed to protect the nearly 1,900 existing marriages of gay couples.

An October survey found few New Hampshire voters (27%) in favor of repeal. Bates has disputed the accuracy of such polls.

“There will be no more guessing, no more arguing or debating over dueling polls, just the actual voice of the people telling us what their will is on this issue,” Bates told reporters.

“I am ready to accept the will of the people. Now let's see if those on the other side of this debate will do the same. Or are the homosexual activists only interested in pushing through their own agenda without regard for the will of the people of this state?” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

If approved, the bill would replace gay marriage with civil unions effective March 31, 2013. That is, provided voters approve the change in November.