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Manny Pacquiao on Grove ban: 'I'm not condemning gays'

Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao said in an interview Wednesday that he has nothing against gay people and that hateful comments attributed to him are untrue.

"What I said is a reporter asked me about gay marriage...I am against gay marriage, but I'm not condemning gays," the boxer said in an interview with The Times. "I have family -- a cousin -- who's gay, and friends, too. I'm just against gay marriage. I don't even want to talk about the issue, but I was asked about it, so I gave my opinion."

Pacquiao was responding the Grove shopping mall's decision to ban him from the Westside venue. The ban turned out to be based on erroneous information that the boxing legend had cited Scripture and suggested gay men should die.

Pacquiao said he never referred to Scripture referencing bringing harm to homosexuals.

Pacquiao said although he's a congressman in the Philippines, he'd prefer to avoid discussion of divisive U.S. social subjects in the future.

"My favorite Scripture is 'Love thy neighbor as you love yourself,' " he said. "Obey the Commandments, the Scripture: love everyone, love each other."

The Grove announced the ban Tuesday evening.

"Based on news reports of statements made by Mr. Pacquiao, we have made it be known that he is not welcome at the Grove and will not be interviewed here now or in the future. The Grove is a gathering place for all Angelenos and not a place for intolerance," the Grove said in a statement.

Officials from the Grove did not immediately return calls seeking additional comment.

But a source there, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the organization, said the ban came in response to media headlines that quoting the boxer as saying “gay men should be put to death.”

Pacquiao was scheduled to do an interview on "Extra" on Wednesday, which is shot at the outdoor mall in the Fairfax district next to Farmers Market.

The source said Grove officials feared that allowing Pacquiao’s interview to go forward ultimately could prove disruptive to the Grove and its patrons. The same source stressed that Pacquiao was free to express his views and that the decision to have him interviewed elsewhere “was in everybody’s best interest.”

The source did not elaborate on part of the Grove’s statement suggesting Pacquiao would not be welcome or interviewed “now or in the future” at the shopping center.

In an interview with National Conservative Examiner, Pacquiao addressed President Obama's recent endorsement of gay marriage.

"God's words first ... obey God's law first before considering the laws of man," Pacquiao told the Examiner. "God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married. It should not be of the same sex, so as to adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah."

The article goes on to say that "Pacquiao's directive for Obama calls societies to fear God and not to promote sin, inclusive of same-sex marriage and cohabitation."

The original story quoted Leviticus 20:13, which states: "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

But the story did not quote Pacquiao as making the quotation.

Pacquiao later released a statement saying he was misquoted and denying he has animosity for gay people. "I didn't say that, that's a lie.… I didn't know that quote from Leviticus because I haven't read the Book of Leviticus yet."

"I'm not against gay people.… I have a relative who is also gay," the boxer insisted. "We can't help it if they were born that way. What I'm critical of are actions that violate the word of God. I only gave out my opinion that same-sex marriage is against the law of God."

The writer of the original story also backed up Pacquiao's account. But some media outlets attributed the quote to the boxer.

"I sincerely apologize for the confusion my column has caused. I certainly do not represent Pacquiao nor his team," the author wrote.

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--Lance Pugmire and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Manny Pacquiao in 2010. Credit: Nick Ut /The Associated Press

 
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