San Francisco Gavin Newsom (D), a strong backer of gay marriage rights, said that President-elect Obama's inclusion of gay marriage opponent Rick Warren at the inauguration can serve as a chance to bridge differences.

Newsom, taking a more conciliatory tone toward Warren than gay and liberal activists, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday that Obama could use the inauguration to bridge differences with social conservatives. Warren, in addition to backing an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative in California last month, is also pro-choice and has opposed lifting restrictions on stem-cell research.

"The politics of this are lousy for President-elect Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Ex-US ambassador: Mueller is the one who is tough on Russia MORE," Newsom said. "But again, he is someone that said he was going to reach across the divide and try to bring us together. And if he can do that in a way that sparks a dialogue and a substantive one at that, where we can begin to understand one another and begin to address our differences in a meaningful way, then maybe it's an opportunity."

Newsom noted that Warren, the pastor of the Saddleback Church, has also preached about the need to address climate change, the spread of HIV and AIDS, the use of torture and poverty.

"But make no mistake -- I don't think it was a good idea under the circumstances," Newsom said. "And the folks out here in California, that just had their rights taken away, to now have a person that was one of the leaders in that constitutional amendment to strip people's rights up there front and center to kick this inaugural, obviously, makes it more difficult to, as you say, enjoy the festivities."

Newsom allowed same-sex couples to get marriage licenses from the city of San Francisco in 2004, when many states passed constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.

When asked how Obama could reach out to the gay community, Newsom said he could support a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" military policy and federal hate crime legislation.