Rick Perry on Friday praised Republican lawmakers' effort to repeal New Hampshire's gay marriage law.

Speaking at the annual banquet for Cornerstone Action, a Christian conservative group opposed to gay rights, Perry, 61, said he opposed gay marriage because children need a mom and a dad.

“As conservatives we believe in the sanctity of life. We believe in the sanctity of traditional marriage,” Perry told about 450 attendees in Manchester. “And I applaud those legislators in New Hampshire who are working to defend marriage as an institution between one man and one woman, realizing that children need to be raised in a loving home by a mother and a father.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

Republican Rep. David Bates' bill that would repeal the state's gay marriage law and replace it with civil unions for any two adults competent to enter into a contract – including relatives – cleared a House committee on Tuesday.

However, a poll released two weeks ago shows little support for repealing the law.

Earlier on Friday, Perry paid a $1,000 filing fee and formally became a candidate in the New Hampshire primary.