About 100 gay activists appeared outside the campus of Saddleback Church in Southern California to protest the inclusion of Rev. Rick Warren at President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration.

Warren was chosen by Obama to give the nation's prayer at his inauguration ceremony on Tuesday.

Gay rights activists decried giving such a significant honor to Warren, a man they say is homophobic. Warren likened gay marriage to an incestuous relationship and polygamy in an interview with Beliefnet.com editor Steven Waldman, and backed passage of a controversial gay marriage ban in California.

They point out that Warren's Saddleback megachurch bans gays and lesbians from attendance, and he supports the controversial ex-gay movement that claims gays can be “cured” through prayer.

Outside the Lake Forest church campus demonstrators waved rainbow flags and chanted for “equal rights.”

“President-elect Obama made a huge misjudgment [by selecting Warren],” Jenny Mirmak, an Obama supporter who demonstrated with her husband and 7-year-old daughter, told the Los Angeles Times. “The Democratic Party has always counted on the gay and lesbian community for their votes, then thrown them under the bus once they get elected.”

The fury over the Warren pick calmed down somewhat before Christmas, but Warren stirred the pot when he called gay activists “Christophobes” and denied likening gay marriage to polygamy and an incestuous relationship in a video posted at the Saddleback Church website. He said he “loved gays.”

“We felt there was good reason to come out and protest a man who's going to be given a national stage, who preaches intolerance while pretending to be a friend of the gay community,” Josh Einsohn of Los Angeles, who founded the pro-gay grassroots organization AllorNotatAll.org, told the OC Register.

Parishioners attending Sunday service mostly ignored the protesters. “They have the right to protest, but as Christians we have the right to believe what we want to believe,” said Kathy Cox.

In a January 12 blog post at the Saddleback Church website, Warren said he would “out-love” the protesters: “Never forget that everything we do is all about connecting people to God and that Jesus loves and died for all those angry people who are attacking me. We will respond with nothing but love for them. We will out-love those who hate us. And if being insulted brings more people to Christ, so be it.”

But at the protest, at least one church member disagreed with that philosophy. “People are saying if you really love the protesters, go out and give them doughnuts and coffee,” Casey Jones, who shouted Bible verses at the protesters, said. “And I say 'no'. I'm not going to give someone doughnuts and coffee on their way to hell.”

Rick Warren will give his invocation, a prelude to Obama's historic inaugural address, on Tuesday.