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Obama backs gay marriage: How it plays with Christian church leaders (+video)

The response from Christian church leaders ranged from "giddy" to "deeply saddening" when asked about President Obama's new support of gay marriage. Will it fire up evangelical Christians to vote against Obama in November?

Barack Obama is the first US president to publicly back gay marriage. Peter Grier decodes the politics behind the high-risk move.
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Some rejoiced in the U.S. president's courage. Others predicted hellfire at the polls. One pastor said he would reflect on the matter in prayer.

President Barack Obama's announcement on Wednesday that he supported same-sex marriage stirred impassioned responses at places of worship across the United States, underscoring the risk he took in coming out in favor of such a controversial measure.

Gay and liberal Christians found renewed enthusiasm for Obama, who had disappointed many on the left when his 2008 message of hope and change ran into the realities of governing.

"It just makes me giddy with joy. I have been bouncing around all day," said the Reverend Annie Steinberg-Behrman, a United Church of Christ pastor in Berkeley, California, who married her partner in 2004.

IN PICTURES: The gay marriage debate

But some conservative Christians who cite the Bible in opposing gay marriage have also found a reason to campaign against Obama when he seeks re-election Nov. 6 against presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

"This could definitely get them riled up ... hopefully," said Caryl Scales, a member of Hampton Road Baptist Church in DeSoto, Texas. "I'm not happy with it. I believe scripture. God's word says gay marriage is wrong."

National religious leaders with a weightier voice also came down against Obama.


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