Republicans inside the New Hampshire House and outside played a key role in Wednesday's defeat of a bill which sought to repeal the state's 2-year-old gay marriage law.

Roughly 100 Republican House members voted against the measure sponsored by GOP colleague David Bates.

Bates, who introduced the measure last year and has since struggled to build support for it in the House, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by three to one, told The New York Times that he had not expected such a decisive defeat. “It really became sort of a circus. The majority of the opposition there was essentially people who are very libertarian-minded.”

One of those libertarian-minded Republicans, Rep. Seth Cohn, introduced an amendment to Bates' bill which sought to bar left-handed persons from marrying each other just to make a point on the issue.

According to Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, the campaign to defeat the bill was largely bankrolled by Elliot Management Corp. CEO Paul Singer, a Republican, who gave $250,000 to the cause.

“That played a huge role in our ability to pull off a really solid campaign,” Solomon said.

And the group New Hampshire Republicans for Freedom and Equality pledged $100,000 to support GOP lawmakers who voted against the measure.

Opponents vowed to return next year, when Governor John Lynch, who pledged to veto the bill, is no longer in office, and threatened to hold accountable lawmakers who voted against repeal.

“This is a sad day for New Hampshire families who in 2010 had elected what they thought was a solid pro-marriage majority. They were once again let down by politicians who promised them one thing and then left them at the altar when the vote was on the line,” Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), said in a statement. “These legislators will be held accountable.”