By Alex P. Vidal
HOLLYWOOD, California – Even if the Grove, Jinky Pacquiao’s most favorite shopping center in Los Angeles, will lift the ban on Manny Pacquiao, the damage on the Filipino world champion’s name has been done.
The mall management issued a terse statement May 15 evening that the 33-year-old lawmaker from Saranggani Province in the Philippines was persona non grata at the popular outdoor shopping center a day before Pacquiao’s scheduled interview with “Extra,” which regularly films at the mall next to the Original Farmer’s Market at Third Street and Fairfax Avenue.
The mall, the report said, was reacting to Pacquiao’s statement where he disagreed with President Obama’s stand in favor of gay marriage.
“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,” said the mall management quoted by the Los Angeles Times. “The Grove is a gathering place for all Angelenos and not a place for intolerance.”
Quoting the same source, the LA Times reported that “Grove officials feared that allowing Pacquiao’s interview to go forward at the mall could have proved disruptive.”
The article, where the Grove management based its ban on Pacquiao, stated that “Pacquiao’s directive for Obama calls societies to fear God and not promote sin, inclusive of same-sex marriage and cohabitation.”
Stoking further controversy, the LA Times said, the story quoted Leviticus 20:13, saying: “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.”
Pacquiao has denied quoting that biblical reference saying he had nothing against gay people and that hateful comments attributed to him were untrue. Writer Granville Ampong also confirmed he did not attribute the statement to the boxing champion saying the Leviticus verse was his own version. Some American newsmen who picked the story may have wrongly attributed the Leviticus statement on Pacquiao, it was reported.
“To the gay community, I apologize,” Pacquiao declared during the “Extra” taping held in his L.A. house as reported by L.A. Times. “I’m against same-sex marriage, but I’m not condemning you. My favorite verse is ‘Love one another as you love yourself. Love your neighbors. So I love everybody!”
Many boxing fans and shoppers have expressed displeasure that the reigning WBO welterweight titlist was barred from the mall saying the order was “divisive and discriminatory.”
“It (the mall) shot before asking a question,” lamented shopper Felipe Fontaine of Orange County. “Since Pacquiao has denied saying the harmful words against gays and most of his fans believe him, the fans should retaliate by boycotting the mall.”
During the Christmas shopping season, fake snow is produced periodically during the night in the mall. In mid-November, the Grove Christmas Tree goes up. At 110 feet, it is the tallest Christmas tree in the city of Los Angeles.
As this developed, Yahoo news reported that “hundreds of netizens have supported a petition asking sportswear company Nike to drop Pacquiao as an endorser, following his opposition against gay marriage.”
The petition, initiated by Gay Marriage USA via Change.org, asks Nike to “say ‘no’ to hate speech” by withdrawing its sponsorship of Pacquiao, a champion boxer whom the brand has supported since 2008, it was reported.
“Following (U.S. President Barack) Obama’s recent announcement of support for marriage equality, Pacquiao quoted Bible excerpts to state that homosexuals should be put to death: 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,” the petition read.