The Catholic Church in Maine has announced it will fight gay marriage in the state.

In a statement released Friday, Bishop Richard Malone, who heads the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, said the church will back an effort to repeal the law, and called gay marriage “dangerous.”

“I am deeply disappointed in the Maine Legislature and the Governor for making same-sex marriage legal in our state,” Malone said. “Same-sex marriage is a dangerous sociological experiment that I believe will have negative consequences for society as a whole.”

“Children will be taught in schools that same-sex marriage and traditional marriage are simply different expressions of the same thing, and that the logical and consistent understanding that marriage and reproduction are intrinsically linked is no longer valid. These are profound changes that will reverberate throughout society with tragic consequences,” he added.

Governor John Baldacci, a Democrat, became the first governor to sign a gay marriage bill on Wednesday, less than an hour after lawmakers approved it. A gay marriage bill awaits New Hampshire Governor John Lynch's signature.

“I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage,” Baldacci said in a statement.

But he also gave a nod to opponents looking to repeal the law with a “people's veto.” “Just as the Maine Constitution demands that all people are treated equally under the law, it also guarantees that the ultimate political power in the state belongs to the people.”

Gay marriage opponents in Maine have already announced they would pursue such a measure, and the Catholic Church in Maine, which includes 200,000 members, is now backing it.

“Although the details are still being worked out at this time, we can say with certainty that the Portland Diocese will play a lead role in organizing this petition drive to bring the issue before the voters,” said Marc Mutty of the diocese.

Efforts to turn back recent gay rights victories are also underway in Washington state, where lawmakers approved an extension to domestic partnerships, in Iowa, where the state Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, and the District of Columbia, where council members approved recognition of legal gay marriages performed in another state or country.