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Pacquiao may oppose gay marriage, but that doesn't make him a bigot

Manny Pacquiao says he loves and supports gays and lesbians, even though he does not approve of gay marriage.
Reed Saxon/AP

Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao said what?

That was the widespread reaction on Tuesday when Pacquiao, in an interview with the National Conservative Examiner, criticized U.S. President Barack Obama’s support of gay marriage.

"God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married, only if they so are in love with each other,” Pacquiao told the publication. “It should not be of the same sex so as to adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah of Old.”

Inflammatory words, sure, but then again Pacquiao is not your traditional boxer. He’s a Filipino congressman with an eye toward running for president in 2013. He is asked questions that other fighters aren’t.

But what really electrified this story were words attributed to Pacquiao that he claims he never said. In the Examiner story, Pacquiao was originally attributed invoking the Old Testament, citing 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.”

Scary stuff, but later -- after outlets like USA Today and LA Weekly wrote scathing rebukes and The Grove, a  Los Angeles-area shopping mall where Pacquiao was scheduled to be interviewed on Wednesday, released a statement saying Pacquiao was not welcome at The Grove and “will not be interviewed here now or in the future” -- both Pacquiao and the original article’s author released statements saying that, in fact, Pacquiao did not make those comments.

“I didn’t say that, that’s a lie,” Pacquiao said. “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. 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.”

If Pacquiao is telling the truth -- and given that he has never hinted at having that line of thinking before, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt -- all Pacquiao is guilty of is being against gay marriage. He won’t get many members of GLAAAD buying his pay per views but he should not be branded a bigot, either.

Longtime nemesis Floyd Mayweather -- who had his own battles with being branded a bigot earlier this year and is never one to miss an opportunity to get his name in the news cycle -- tweeted out his support for gay marriage. Said Mayweather: I stand behind President Obama & support gay marriage. I'm an American citizen & I believe people should live their life the way they want.

Well, glad we cleared that up.

 -- Chris Mannix