Amid backlash from the LGBT community, a gay businessman apologized for hosting conservative presidential candidate Ted Cruz last week for an event described as a “fireside chat” about foreign policy.
“I made a terrible mistake. I was ignorant, naive and much too quick in accepting a request to co-host a dinner with Cruz at my home without taking the time to completely understand all of his positions on gay rights,” hotelier Ian Reisner wrote in a message posted to Facebook late Sunday night.
Reisner, who, along with his business partner Mati Weiderpass, own the penthouse where the event took place, added that he was “shocked and angry” after spending a day familiarizing himself with the Texas senator’s position on marriage for same-sex couples.
Cruz believes marriage should be defined as being only between a man and a woman, while Reisner and Weiderpass have both publicly advocated for marriage equality.
“I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers and employees,” Reisner wrote. “I will try my best to make up for my poor judgment.”
Reisner began his post by writing that he had received numerous emails, phone calls, texts, and messages that prompted him to reconsider his stance on inviting Cruz to his home. He previously stood by the decision, telling The New York Times that “Senator Ted Cruz and I disagree strongly on the issue of gay marriage, but having an open dialogue with those who have differing political opinions is a part of what this country was founded on. My tireless support of the gay community and its causes worldwide hasn’t changed and will not change.”
The event at Reisner and Weiderpass’ home drew harsh criticism from those supporting marriage equality and prompted a campaign on Facebook to boycott properties owned by the couple. Weiderpass and Reisner together own several gay-oriented venues, including The Out NYC Hotel. Reiser recently also purchased Fire Island Pine Ventures, which owns 60% of the commercial property in a primarily gay Long Island, New York, community. As of Monday morning, a Facebook page dedicated to boycotting the two properties had gained nearly 9,000 likes.
In addition, several prominent gay groups have cancelled events that were to be held at properties owned by the couple. On Saturday, the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus called off its spring fundraiser, which was set to take place at Out NYC Hotel on the same day. A prominent anti-AIDS nonprofit with ties to the theater industry also nixed a fundraiser scheduled for one of the couple’s properties in May.
Tom Viola, the executive director for the group, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, cited the Cruz event as the reason for the cancellation. “Silence is not a neutral position,” he said. “It is complicit.”
Cruz’s spokesperson Rick Tyler told The Washington Examiner that, in retrospect, “I think we would have chosen a different venue.”
Cruz also released a statement to the Examiner emphasizing his take that marriage is “between a man and a woman” and that the event at the couple’s home focused on foreign policy and Israel. “I'm happy to go anywhere to anyone to champion conservative values,” he wrote. “We're not always going to agree on everything, and I'm not going to change my fundamental values. But at the same time, I'm hoping to offer enough bold leadership on a broad slate of issues that many voters will decide we agree on far more than we disagree.”
Alex Seitz-Wald contributed reporting to this article.