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Rick Warren, Obama's inauguration pastor, denies homophobia

December 19, 2008 |  8:26 am

Rick Warren, the Orange County evangelical pastor who'll give the invocation at Barack Obama's historic presidential inauguration on Capitol Hill next month, says he's not at all homophobic, as some gay rights groups have charged, because he supported Prop. 8 to ban same-sex marriage.

Warren, who's at the center of a growing controversy over his inaugural invitation from the president-elect, said Prop. 8 became more about free speech than anything else. Speaking of free speech, as reported here, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center  strongly criticized Obama on Thursday for his invitation to Warren to pray with the immense crowd at the opening of the inaugural ceremony. The group also demanded that the Democratic president-elect disinvite Warren from participating.

Obama has said he doesn't agree with some things Warren says and vice versa, but Warren invited him to speak in August at the Saddleback Forum. And, Obama adds, disagreeing with someone doesn't mean being disagreeable to each other. That's something his campaign has preached about for two years. Listen to Obama explain it himself on the video.

Warren, who heads the mega-church Saddleback in Lake Forest, says he's got no problem with gays having relationships; just don't call it marriage, he says. Marriage is between one man and one woman and has been for 5,000 years in numerous religions.

Warren also points out that his congregation has donated many millions of dollars to help gays with AIDS, which couldn't possibly be labeled homophobic.

Listen to the explanation in his own words in this news video.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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