Manny Pacquiao ‘banned’ from trendy Los Angeles mall over pro-family views
LOS ANGELES, March 23, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – World-famous boxer Manny Pacquiao has been banned from a trendy L.A. mall because of his biblical comments on same-sex "marriage." But at least one legal expert says it's hypocritical to force Christian bakers to make cakes for homosexuals and then ban Christians from public places because their opinion is unpopular.
"Manny Pacquiao is no longer welcome," Grove owner Rick Caruso told TMZ. "These are statements of hatred. A lot of people from the gay community come to the Grove and they have a right not to feel uncomfortable."
Pacquiao, a world champion in eight weight classes and a two-term member of the Philippines Congress who is seeking a Senate seat in the May elections, was approached a month ago for his views on same-sex "marriage" by a Filipino TV reporter while he was training for his April 9 non-title match against American welterweight Tim Bradley in Las Vegas.
"It's common sense," the boxer responded. "Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female? The animals are better. They know how to distinguish male from female. If we approve male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animals."
Pacquiao soon apologized for offending LGBT individuals but held his ground on the issue of same-sex "marriage." "I still stand on my belief that I'm against same-sex marriage because of what the Bible says, but I'm not condemning LGBT. I love you all with the love of the Lord," he said in a video.
But he then followed up on his Facebook page by citing the passage in Leviticus that states, "If a man has sexual relations with a man … [he is] to be put to death."
Nike, the sporting goods giant, withdrew its sponsorship of Pacquiao, and celebrities in the Philippines and the U.S. attacked him, including the fight's promoter, Bob Arum.
Pacquiao's popularity with ordinary Filipinos remained unshaken. As one strident critic, JoJo Robies, lamented in print, "The irony of it all is that Pacquiao's anti-gay comments probably aren't going to cost him the Senate seat that he seeks in the May elections. I doubt very much if the Filipino electorate can be swayed enough to deny the champion boxer his heart's desire, no matter how many homosexual groups denounce him for his store-bought Christian fundamentalist views."
The furore died down until Pacquiao moved his camp to Los Angeles. This time, promoter Arum stood by him, declaring that Pacquiao is "entitled to say he was against same-sex marriages. That is his religious belief and, while people may disagree with it, he is entitled to say it."
Caruso, a developer and philanthropist who was raised Catholic and recently donated $7.5 million to build a new Catholic church on the campus of the University of South California, apparently disagrees. After Pacquiao took a break from training and took in a movie at the Grove along with his sizeable entourage, Caruso issued his disinvitation.
This is the second time Caruso has done this. In 2012, Pacquiao was misquoted in a Philippines magazine as having cited the same Levitical denunciation of homosexuality, and when he came to L.A. to train for a fight, Caruso declared him unwelcome. "Based on news reports of statements made by Mr. Pacquiao, we have made it be known that he is not welcome at the Grove. … The Grove is a gathering place for all Angelenos and not a place for intolerance."
But a Chicago legal expert who has won many religious freedom cases says if courts are going to give homosexuals a legal right to wedding cakes from Christians, Pacquiao obviously has a legal right to shop at the Grove even if the owner disagrees with his views.
"Two areas of law are colliding here," John Mauck of the firm Mauck & Baker told LifeSiteNews. The traditional right of a property owner to choose with whom he does business is being eroded by the right of the minorities to use public facilities along with the majority.
"This area of law was developed to ensure African-Americans could not be discriminated against by restaurants and hotels," said Mauck. "If you are open to the public, you have got to be open to all."
Mauck went on to say that California law is more restrictive than that of some states. It might allow a mall operator to stop a "religious pamphleteer or a pro-life group" from using the mall to proselytize. But if this mall has ever let its facilities be used to launch a campaign for a controversial issue, then because of recent human rights decisions forcing Christian bakers and wedding planners to service same-sex weddings, Caruso would be on very weak grounds even preventing Pacquiao from using it for a press conference to preach his views on homosexuality.
“There’s really a bit of hypocrisy here. If Christians can’t refuse to serve gays, then he shouldn’t be able to refuse to serve Christians.”
As for Pacquiao shopping or taking in a movie at the Grove, Mauck said he likes the boxer’s chances in court. "We'd prepare a legal opinion to that effect for Mr. Pacquiao pro bono," he offered.
LifeSiteNews is supporting Manny Pacquiao's position on marriage with a petition that has gathered more than 33,000 signatures.
Pacquiao, who has won 57 fights in his career, 38 by knockout, said at his first press conference in the U.S. that he was adamant, at 37, about retiring after this fight to devote himself to improving the life of Filipinos. "I started boxing all those years ago to help my family, my mother. I want to end my boxing career now because my desire in my heart is to help my people, my country."
Neither the boxer nor Mr. Caruso could be reached for comment.