Rick Warren is a best-selling author and pastor of a Southern California mega-church that strongly backed a ballot initiative banning gay marriage.
Now, Warren is about to play a role in history. The evangelical minister is President-elect Barack Obama's choice to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Gay groups are outraged over the choice.
"The question is, should this position of honor in the inauguration that has such a symbolic role be given to someone actively opposed rights that actively supported President-elect Obama, and we think the answer to that is no," said Jim Madigan, Equality Illinois.
The president-elect says his choice of Warren does not change his views on gay rights. Obama says the choice represents what his campaign was about and what he hopes his administration will be about.
"It is important for America to come together even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues," Obama said Thursday.
Obama says, after all, Warren invited candidate Obama to the pastor's mega-church to speak, despite their opposing views on gay rights.
"What we have to do is be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things we hold in common as Americans," said
The gay rights group Equality Illinois says it is hopeful the Obama administration's policies are better than the president-elect's inaugural invocation choice.
"The day after that inauguration he becomes the president of the entire United States, and that includes the LGTB citizens, and we are not about to sit quietly if policies do not produce the equality that his campaign promised," said Madigan.
The nation's largest gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, has sent a letter to the president-elect asking him to reconsider his choice.
Barack Obama says his inauguration includes people with a wide range of viewpoints.
Obama's choice to deliver the benediction is Rev. Joseph Lowery. He is a civil rights icon and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.