Barack Obama, the US president-elect, has defended his decision to invite controversial evangelical pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration in January. Gay rights groups have labelled the choice of Warren, the pastor of the Saddleback church in California, a so-called "megachurch" where thousands of people worship, as "appalling" because of his opposition to gay marriage. Obama has said he holds views "absolutely contrary" to Warren on gay rights and abortion and described himself as "a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans". He said: "During the course of the entire inaugural festivities, there are going to be a wide range of viewpoints that are presented. Warren is known as an evangelical focused on fighting poverty and disease, including Aids in Africa, but he also advocated California Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage that voters in the state backed last month. "I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn't agree on every issue, to offer the invocation at his historic inaugural ceremony," Warren said in a statement on Thursday Kufuatia mwaliko huo aliyoutoa kwa Pastor Rick Warren, Msimamo wa Obama ukoje kuhusu Gays??