I'm going to tell this story again. I've told it before. I did so when Obama picked Donnie McClurkin to represent him at a campaign event. There were people participating in the discussion of it on this site that didn't feel the hurt it caused personally, so to them it wasn't a big deal. I have seen the same lack of understanding of the hurt caused again in the discussions of Obama's selection of Rick Warren.
I've seen people here say that Warren isn't a bigot and that he isn't homophobic. But then, Warren himself said that he wasn't homophobic because he has gay friends. Do not be deluded, it is bigotry and it is homophobic to believe that two men getting married is on the same level as a man sexually abusing a child, which Warren believes.
I know very well the impact of that hatred.
Growing up, while it wasn't until many years into my life that we finally started attending church, I was raised under the teachings of the World Wide Church of God. Their teachings have changed some since my days as a member, so I can't say with any certainty what they teach now, but I know what they taught then. Homosexuality was an abomination, as it says in Leviticus, and gay people were evil.
So imagine the fear I felt when I started to realize that I was attracted to men. I believed it was wrong; that's what the church had taught, and they knew better about what God wanted than I did, I thought. I did the best I could to repress my attraction to men, even to the point that I would physically harm myself when I experienced a direct attraction to someone. I was taught that God would send gay people to Hell for their sin of being gay. So I thoroughly feared that I was going to go to Hell.
Then I thought I had a glimmer of hope when I grasped onto the concept of praying to God to be straight. I did so over and over and over. It never happened; I remained attracted to men. I was left trying to figure out what it meant. I came to the conclusion that God hated me for being gay so much that he wouldn't even help me be not gay. I believed I was evil. I believed I deserved to burn in Hell. And so, I decided that in order to prevent something evil like myself from living, I was going to kill myself and quicken my journey to Hell.
I never actually put into action a plan to kill myself; I couldn't think of a way that wouldn't leave a mess behind for my family to find and have to clean up. But I totally fantasized about driving my car head-on into a tree or electric pole. I thought of cutting my wrists. I thought of drinking anti-freeze; I had always heard that it supposedly tastes sweet. I did take like 12 or 20, I can't remember exactly how many, Tylenol once though. I walked barefoot on hot asphalt once and blistered most of the bottoms of my feet. I bashed my shoulder into a big, wooden farm fence post for an hour, bruising my chest and shoulder. I would scratch huge welts into my forearms with my car keys. I'd bash myself in the head. After all, God hated me.
Suicide statistics are significantly higher among gay youth than they are among straight youth. I was lucky; I survived; many gay youth do not. I eventually began to confront what I had been taught to believe about God. The initial spark came when my best friend, and then girlfriend, told me that she didn't believe God hated me. That she believed that if I was gay that God made me that way. Before her, I had never heard anyone who was Christian say they believed that. I didn't know that any Christians existed that didn't believe homosexuality was evil. And though it was a painful process, from that moment on, I began to come to accept my being gay.
But it was hateful teachings from people who preached just like Warren does that planted in me the seeds of fear and hatred that led to me nearly killing myself. That's why Obama's using Warren to pray to God on his behalf for the inauguration ceremony hurts so much. You might not think so because you yourself have never experienced that level of religiously born self-hatred. But I tell you, as one who has directly experienced it, Obama is giving legitimacy to homophobia.
UPDATE: I want to recommend everyone read pico's excellent diary presenting cases of homophobic violence. They are stories of pain and death inflicted upon people all because the attackers hate anything other than heterosexuality and traditional gender roles. These stories are heartbreaking, and they don't get anywhere near as much time in major news broadcasts/publications as they should.