The following is the key passage dealing with homosexuality and “same-sex marriage” in Sen. Barack Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope. The “obscure line” in the New Testament Book of Romans to which Obama refers is evidently this:
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. (Romans 1:26-27)
Obama writes on pages 222-224 (emphasis added):
[Following a passage on the lack of compromise on both sides of the abortion debate…]
For many practicing Christians, the same inability to compromise may apply to gay marriage. I find such a position troublesome, particularly in a society in which Christians men and women have been known to engage in adultery or other violations of their faith without civil penalty. All too often I have sat in a church and heard a pastor use gay bashing as a cheap parlor trick—‘It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!’ he will shout, usually when the sermon is not going so well. I believe that American society can choose to carve out a special place for the union of a man and a woman as the unit of child rearing most common to every culture. I am not willing to have the state deny American citizens a civil union that confers equivalent rights on such basic matters as hospital visitations or health insurance coverage simply because the people they love are of the same sex—nor am I willing to accept a reading of the Bible that considers an obscure line in Romans to be more defining of Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount.
Perhaps I am sensitive on this issue because I have seen the pain my own carelessness has caused. Before my election [to the United States Senate], in the middle of my debates with Mr. [Alan] Keyes, I received a phone message from one of my strongest supporters. She was a small business owner, a mother, and a thoughtful, generous person. She was also a lesbian who had lived in a monogamous relationship with her partner for the last decade.
She knew when she decided to support me that I was opposed to same-sex marriage, and she had heard me argue that, in the absence of any meaningful consensus, the heightened focus on marriage was a distraction from other attainable measures to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians. Her phone message in this instance had been prompted by a radio interview she had heard in which I had referenced my religious traditions in explaining my position on the issue. She told me that she had been hurt by my remarks; she felt that by bringing religion into the equation, I was suggesting that she, and others like her, were somehow bad people.
I felt bad, and told her so in a return call. As I spoke to her I was reminded that no matter how much Christians who oppose homosexuality may claim that they hate the sin but love the sinner, such a judgment inflicts pain on good people — people who are made in the image of God, and who are often truer to Christ’s message than those who condemn them. And I was reminded that it is my obligation, not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided, just as I cannot claim infallibility in my support of abortion rights. I must admit that I may have been infected with society’s prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God; that Jesus’ call to love on another might demand a different conclusion; and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history. I don’t believe such doubts make me a bad Christian. I believe they make me human, limited in my understandings of God’s purpose and therefore prone to sin. When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelation – whether they come from a lesbian friend or a doctor opposed to abortion.