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Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Barkley sounds off on gay rights, religion and Katrina

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Charles Barkley was his usual outspoken self during a recent television interview in which he said, among other things, that he advocates gay marriage, believes Republicans have screwed up the country and is "struggling with my idea of what religion is."

The former NBA MVP, who is considering running as a Democratic candidate for governor in his home state of Alabama, also said Democrats have concentrated too much on criticizing President Bush in the last two years instead of focusing on what they can do to improve things in the country.

Religious people in general are so discriminatory against other people, and that really disturbs me. My idea of religion is we all love and respect. We all sin, but we still have common decency and respect for other people. So right now I'm struggling with my idea of what religion is.
Charles Barkley

"They're criticizing a guy who can't run again, who can't get fired," Barkley said during an appearance on "CMI: The Chris Meyers Interview," which will air on Sunday night on Fox SportsNet. "So they spent the last two years criticizing him instead of saying, 'Some things aren't right. This is our game plan.' And now we're two years away from the election, and we have no solutions and no front-runner."

Barkley was a Republican until recently, saying he switched parties when the Republicans "lost their minds." He said he is troubled by some of the actions of people in the United States in the name of religion.

"Religious people in general are so discriminatory against other people, and that really disturbs me," he said. "My idea of religion is we all love and respect. We all sin, but we still have common decency and respect for other people. So right now I'm struggling with my idea of what religion is."

He also said he supports gay marriage.

"I think if they want to get married, God bless them," Barkley said. "Gay marriage is probably 1 percent of the population, so it's not like it's going to be an epidemic. Hey, trust me, I'm never going to kiss you and say, 'Chris, you're sexy."'

Barkley also acknowledged that a gay athlete likely would be discriminated against in professional sports, though he said he believes they would face the same discrimination in everyday life.

The Hall of Famer, who donated money to help with the reconstruction in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina, said he realizes he has limitations when it comes to governing, though that isn't stopping him from considering a gubernatorial bid.

"I don't know anything about a lot of things, but I would ask somebody and try to make a fair, honest decision for the majority of the people. Not the rich, not the poor, not the black, not the white," Barkley said. "When you get elected to public office, you're supposed to represent everybody. Your job is not to take care of the rich or the poor or the black or the white. Your job is to take care of everybody."