Two gay hoteliers, Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, who invited Ted Cruz to their Manhattan duplex, are facing a political backlash from LGBT activists for hosting the controversial Texas Senator at their home.
Although Cruz was invited primarily to speak about his support for the Israeli government, he also briefly touched on LGBT issues, taking a softer tone than he usually puts out during his stump speeches in Middle America. While he maintained his opposition to gay marriage, Cruz also stated that he wouldn’t love his daughters any less if it turned out they were gay.
Activists are promoting a boycott of Out NYC, a hotel that Reisner and Weiderpass set up that caters to gay patrons. Activists are also calling for a boycott of a property that Reisner owns in the Fire Island Pines resort community off of Long Island.
A rally and protest are scheduled for Monday April 27th at 6:00 PM Eastern Time. Marchers plan to demonstrate in support of same-sex marriage, with the rally concluding at the Out NYC hotel. Resiner and Weiderpass have been working feverishly to stem the political fallout from hosting the event with Ted Cruz on April 20th.
The two men attempted to defend their decision to host Cruz, in the Friday edition of The New York Times. Both men drew attention to their efforts to support the gay community on key issues, and they tried to rationalize their meeting with Cruz as a way of opening dialogue to people they disagree with.
I was given the opportunity to have a candid conversation with Senator Ted Cruz on where he stood on all issues, foreign and domestic. It was just three months ago that I hosted a ‘Ready for Hillary’ event for a record turnout of 900 people at the Out Hotel.
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.
Weiderpass struck a similar tone, stating:
People on both sides of the aisle need to be able to communicate with one another even when they ideologically disagree. I worked tirelessly for the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ as a member of the board of directors for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and needed to reach across the aisle to make that happen. The fact that Senator Cruz accepted the invitation to my home was a step in the right direction toward him having a better understanding of who I am and what I believe in.
While the two men have every legal right to invite Ted Cruz into their home and to tacitly promote his presidential candidacy, consumers also have the right to boycott businesses run by the two men. Americans who support LGBT equality have every reason to spend their dollars in places run by people who do not condone Ted Cruz’s anti-gay bigotry.
While there is no doubt that Reisner and Weiderpass have done things to support LGBT equality, inviting Ted Cruz into their homes to publicly give credence to his presidential campaign sends the wrong message. Supporters of equality cannot merely shrug their shoulders at politicians who stand for bigotry, they must actively oppose them.
Ted Cruz’s anti-gay positions are indefensible, and his candidacy should be thoroughly rejected by any American who believes in equality. Allowing Senator Cruz the opportunity to publicly use gay Americans as a convenient photo opportunity to soften his appearance of bigotry, isn’t the same thing as having a private conversation with someone who you disagree with in order to build a foundation of dialogue and empathy. Reisner and Weiderpass gave Ted Cruz a nice photo-op. Now let them deal with the political fallout created by that foolish decision.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.