Former Marine Craig Stowell testified at a Thursday hearing in New Hampshire in support of gay marriage and his 22-year-old gay brother Calvin.

Supporters of the state's year-old gay marriage law greatly outnumbered opponents during a hearing to consider two bills that aim to end the institution in the state.

Stowell, a self-described conservative, was among the hundreds of supporters who spoke in favor of the law.

“As a conservative Republican, I believe in limited government – a government that allows all law abiding citizens to pursue their dreams,” Stowell told lawmakers. “More importantly, to live free from intrusion in one's personal life. Because of this, I find the effort to take away marriage from loving gay and lesbian couples not only wrong, but also shameful.”

Stowell became emotional talking about his brother, who served as best man at his wedding.

“My brother was tormented by his peers until he graduated from high school and left for college. The pain he felt is a direct reflection of the isolation caused by telling gays that they do not have the same rights as other law abiding citizens – that they are not worthy of marriage.”

“My brother is finally happy and comfortable with who he is. I am so proud of the man he has become, and no one has the right to take away his freedom to marry. One day I hope that he'll ask me to be the best man at his wedding.” (A video segment on Stowell is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

Several opponents of gay marriage testified that they fear the institution because it leads to disease and polygamy.

Republican Representative David Bates, the bill's sponsor, has reluctantly agreed to shelve the effort to repeal the law until next year.