The gay hoteliers who hosted a reception for Sen. Ted Cruz at their New York City penthouse this week are facing a backlash from the LGBT community.
Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner, the openly gay business partners in a company that pioneered gay hospitality, are facing boycott threats, canceled events, and a planned rally after hosting the Texas Republican and 2016 presidential candidate this week for a “fireside chat” focused on foreign policy.
Cruz has positioned himself in the 2016 Republican field as a staunch social conservative and reaffirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage after the meeting. Both Weiderpass and Reisner, who used to be a couple, support marriage equality.
A Facebook page calling for a boycott of The Out NYC Hotel and other properties owned by Weiderpass and Reisner had almost 7,000 likes Saturday afternoon, and at least two events have already been canceled at their properties. A protest rally is scheduled for Monday evening outside the Out NYC.
On Saturday morning, the New York City Gay Men's Chorus abruptly canceled its annual spring fundraiser, scheduled for later in the day at Out NYC. While the chorus did not explicitly cite the controversy or the Cruz meeting, it said it “made the decision because we want to be 100% clear in our support for the LGBTQ community.”
“We believe in nuanced, complex discussion, and we think that dialogue with your opposition will always lead to positive change in the world. We cannot say who is right and who is wrong, and we hope the debate will continue,” the group added. "NYCGMC has a 35-year history of campaigning for human rights through our music. Our mission must always come first."
A fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a nonprofit tied to the theatre industry, canceled an event slated for May, citing the Cruz meeting. “It is a rare instance where the actions of a donor negatively impacts us as an organization and potentially jeopardizes our relationship with others whose support is integral to our success,” said Executive Director Tom Viola in a statement. "But when it does occur, in a way that’s blatantly against all we stand and work for, we can’t pretend it doesn’t come with consequences. Silence is not a neutral position. It is complicit.”
Both Weiderpass and Reisner released statements to The New York Times, which broke the news of the Cruz reception, saying that while they firmly disagreed with Cruz on marriage, they still found the meeting valuable.
"I was given the opportunity to have a candidate conversation with Senator Ted Cruz on where he stood on all issues, foreign and domestic," Reisner said, adding that he hosted a Ready for Hillary event just three months ago.
"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,” he added.