A bill that would repeal New Hampshire's gay marriage law cleared a House committee on Tuesday.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill with an 11 to 6 vote.

If approved, the bill, introduced by Rep. David Bates, a Republican from Windham, would repeal the state's gay marriage law. Gay couples already married would remain so, but going forward the bill would establish civil unions for any two adults competent to enter into a contract – including relatives.

“The Bates proposal is bad for freedom and bad for families,” said Craig Stowell, Republican co-chair of Standing Up for New Hampshire Families, a group opposed to repeal of the marriage law. “We did not send lawmakers to Concord to revisit the marriage law. But a fringe group of lawmakers are squarely focused on taking away freedom and liberty from their constituents and fellow Granite Staters.”

In speaking to the Portsmouth Herald on Monday, Bates said his legislation was needed to rectify a “bad policy decision.”

“I, and many people in New Hampshire, believe that those who pushed this law in 2009 simply did not have the right to redefine marriage for our entire society,” he said.

In comments to Citizenlink.com, Bates suggested that he would have preferred a bill that excluded gay couples entirely.

“While some people may want a complete restoration of marriage, and also having no civil unions or anything like mutual beneficiaries, the political reality is I don't think that's possible at this time,” Bates said. “The bill isn't perfect – no bill is – but I still think this is a step in the right direction.”

Jim Splaine, the former lawmaker who sponsored the marriage legislation, called the effort “crazy.”

“We usually don't take rights away from people once they've been given to them,” Splaine told the Portsmouth Herald. “That's not the American way.”

“It's crazy,” he added. “We need to be focused on jobs and restoring the economy.”

Lawmakers approved the marriage equality law in 2009 when Democrats controlled both chambers of the state Legislature and the governor's mansion. Republicans last year wrested control of the Legislature from Democrats.

A poll released last week shows little support for repealing the law.

The WMUR Granite State poll from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center found that only 27 percent of 500 randomly selected adults reached by telephone support repealing the law, while 50 percent are strongly opposed to repeal.

The full House is expected to vote on the law when it convenes in January.