Presidential candidate Barack Obama has defended his support of civil unions by referring to the Sermon on the Mount.

The famous sermon given by Jesus, which includes the Beatitudes, the instruction to ‘turn the other cheek’ and the Lord’s Prayer, is found in the book of Matthew in the New Testament.

Senator Obama is thought to have been referring to Jesus’ instruction to: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.”

The 46-year-old US Senator from Illinois defended his opposition to gay marriage, but said he favours a legal recognition by the state.

“If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.”

St. Paul condemns homosexuality as sinful in his Letter to the Romans.

Senator Obama told a crowd at Nelsonville Ohio that he is a devout Christian.

There have been persistent attacks on him insinuating he is a Muslim and drawing attention to the similarity between his name and that of Osama bin Laden.

Last week there was a bitter row between his campaign and that of his rival Senator Hillary Clinton after a picture of Obama wearing a turban was leaked to the press.

“I will tell you that I don’t believe in gay marriage, but I do think that people who are gay and lesbian should be treated with dignity and respect and that the state should not discriminate against them,” Senator Obama said in Ohio yesterday.

“So, I believe in civil unions that allow a same-sex couple to visit each other in a hospital or transfer property to each other.

“I don’t think it should be called marriage, but I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognised by the state.”

Senator Obama continues to gain ground in the key primaries of Ohio and Texas, which will be held tomorrow.

He has won the last eleven contests in a row and now has more pledged delegates at the nominating convention than his opponent.

“I think if we lose in Texas and Ohio, Mrs. Clinton will have to make her decision as to whether she moves forward or not,” senior Clinton aide Harold Ickes told the Wall Street Journal last week.

The Sunday Telegraph yesterday reported that senior Clinton aides are in a state of denial over her chances of ultimately winning the Democratic party nomination, while younger staffers want her to stand down if she does not win both key states.

Democrat leaders are also said to be concerned that a fight all the way to the nominating convention in August will damage the eventual candidate and waste money better spent taking on the Republicans in November’s Presidential election.

The Telegraph also reported: “The only one who can tell her to quit is Bill.”

Former President Bill Clinton has publicly voiced concerns that his wife may not be able to continue beyond tomorrow unless she wins both Texas and Ohio.