Gay marriage foes are condemning the New Hampshire Legislature and Governor John Lynch for legalizing gay marriage in the state.

“This is a sad day for families,” said Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, the nationwide group fighting the legalization of gay marriage in several states including California, New York and New Hampshire.

Yesterday's passage of openly gay Representative Jim Splaine's gay marriage bill was a blow to opponents ready to claim victory as lawmakers convoluted over Lynch's religious protections demands. But in the end, the bill passed both chambers – picking up 11 votes over the original bill – and an hour later the governor signed it into law.

“Governor Lynch and a narrow majority of the Legislature today have ripped a significant hole in the fabric of New Hampshire society by passing same-sex marriage legislation,” Brown said in a statement.

“The institution of marriage has served our country well since its founding. The vote of the legislature sends New Hampshire into dangerous waters. It will not be long before young children are taught in New Hampshire school that they can marry someone of the same sex if they wish – that gay marriage is just as good as marriage.”

New Hampshire law does not allow a direct vote to repeal legislation, leaving opponents few options. But NOM promised to rally around the issue.

“We intend to put this issue on the ballot on municipal elections across the state of New Hampshire,” Brown promised. “We want people to be able to express their views directly, even if it is nonbinding.”

“We also intend to make the gay marriage issue the key issue of the 2010 state elections in New Hampshire. Legislators must be held accountable for their votes. And if Governor Lynch decides to seek another term, you can be certain that he will have to answer to voters over why he broke his word on this issue, despite repeated promises over the years that he did not support gay marriage.”

“Overall, this is a sad day for families and a sorry performance by the elected leadership of New Hampshire,” Brown added.