CHICAGO, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- An inauguration should honor all viewpoints, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama said in explaining his choice of an evangelical pastor to give the invocation.
Obama said Thursday his choice of Saddleback Church founder and pastor Rick Warren represents what his presidential campaign stressed: "(That) it is important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues."
Warren has championed the poor, the disadvantaged and people suffering from HIV/AIDS, but he is in the conservative camp regarding abortion and gay marriage, which is why his delivering the invocation drew criticism from liberal and gay rights groups.
Obama said "it is no secret" that he advocates equality for gay and lesbian Americans "and I intend to continue to be consistent on (this advocacy) during my presidency."
He said the inauguration festivities would present a wide range of viewpoints.
"And that's how it should be, because that's what America is about," Obama said. "Part of the magic of this country is that we are diverse and noisy and opinionated."
Obama discussed his selection of Warren during a news conference in Chicago, Obama presented regulatory veteran Mary Schapiro as his nominee for Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, Gary Gensler as his choice to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Dan Tarullo as his designated Federal Reserve Board governor.