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Gay NYC Hotelier Ian Reisner Again Apologizes for Ted Cruz Debacle, Cuts $20,000 Check for Fire Island Pines Group


With the firestorm still raging, real estate developer Ian Reisner has once again apologized for his decision to host a reception and dinner at his Manhattan penthouse (alongside business partner Mati Weiderpass) for virulently anti-LGBT senator and 2016 candidate Ted Cruz last month.

Reisner, who back in January paid $10.1 million for a commercial strip along the Fire Island Pines, has also pledged to redouble his support for LGBT causes and cut a $20,000 check for the Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association (FIPPOA) PAC. 

In the wake of the controversy, some in the Fire Island Pines community sought to distanced themselves from the two hoteliers. 

FIPPOA President Jay Pagano stated that he had recently met with Reisner and was given the following apology that was read at the group's spring meeting:

Reisner2"Dear Members of our Community, 

First I want to clear up that Mati Weiderpass has zero involvement or ownership in the Pines.    
Now let me state unequivocally that I made mistakes. While my initial intention was bi-partisan dialogue about National & Israeli security, I've come to learn that intentions and outcomes are different things. The outcomes of my actions are that I've deeply hurt our community - and I am truly sorry.   
In order to help build a stronger community I am taking the following steps: 

- I am renewing and redoubling my commitment as an ardent supporter of LGBT causes.   
- I will continue to invest my resources in the Pines, its cultural programs and activities that celebrate the diversity and acceptance of its community members, so that it always holds its rightful place in LGBT history.   

- To this end, today I made a donation to the 'FIPPOA-PAC' -- matching All funds raised in its last active year -- which supports politicians committed to the Pines and to LGBT issues. 

- More so, I will be donating profits from my Pines Investment this summer to the following organizations that I have supported in the past: The LGBT Community Center in NYC & The Jerusalem Open House, as well as to 'Equality Texas' which fights for LGBT rights on one of this countries more challenging fronts. 

- Further, I am in the process of hiring a Director of Community Affairs to serve as a liaison with various LGBT organizations and to guide me in better serving our community. 

- Lastly, I commit to meeting and consulting with community & organizational leaders, to hear their concerns and their ideas so that we can all work together for a better Pines and a stronger LGBT community. 

Please accept these preliminary steps as assurance of my commitment to getting this right and to becoming the community member you deserve." 
Pagano added:
The letter of apology was received with applause and approval.  I have since been informed that Omar Sharif Jr. from GLAAD was hired as Director of Community Affairs.  $20,000 was wired to the FIPPOA PAC account and Ian has clarified to me that he will be donating "all of his share" of the profits from the Pines investment.  Ian has again asked me to express his intention of getting it right.  
Sharif Jr. is a Golden Globe winning Egyptian-Canadian actor who came out back in 2012.
Update: Sharif Jr. left his position as National Spokesperson for GLAAD earlier this month. GLAAD is not working with Reisner in any capacity.

Gay Hotelier Who Hosted Ted Cruz Reception Vows He Won't Be Silenced By 'Gay Extremists'


Mati Weiderpass, one of the two gay NYC hoteliers who ignited a firestorm after hosting a reception for Ted Cruz at their Manhattan penthouse last month, has penned an op-ed for The New York Observer in which he lashes out against so-called "gay extremists" who have called for boycotts of Wiederpass-owned establishments. 

Shortly after news of the dinner broke, Weiderpass defended his dinner, saying "people on both sides of the aisle need to be able to communicate with one another even when they ideologically disagree." Later, however, Weiderpass issued an apology saying he "made a terrible mistake," and had "nullified my past efforts and accomplishments in just one week."

It's unclear then why Weiderpass has done yet another about-face and is now once again defending his decision. 

Wrote Weiderpass in the op-ed:

Since hosting a discussion with Texas Senator Ted Cruz in my home, I have been inundated with hateful, biased social media messages, and attacks from gay extremists (do I dare say the word?) who demand inclusion, but do not believe in dialogue. I know in my heart that these attacks do not represent the rich culture and diversity of the gay community. Yet, in our community, as in so many others, the most vocal often dominate the conversation. I hope this op-ed will help heal wounds and continue necessary progress and discussion.

It is amazing that my businesses are being boycotted by some because I hosted a discussion with an elected official. Not a fundraiser. Not an endorsement. A dialogue. What would we say if the Jewish community organized a boycott of a business leader who hosted a private discussion with an important Muslim politician? We know the answer. I am a longtime leader of my community – and proud of who I am and what I have accomplished.

Boycotting me for a discussion?  Since when have we grown so small and intolerant?

He continued:

The next chapter for the advancement of gay rights will require even more support from across the aisle, as many State governments are controlled by Republicans. Although some would like it to be, being gay is not a political affiliation. (For the record, I am a registered Democrat).

Despite media reports to the contrary, I did not organize the Cruz dinner, but did embrace the opportunity—again, in a non-fundraising setting—to discuss a number of important issues, including support for Israel and support for gay rights. In a small group in my living room, I hosted a United States Senator Presidential candidate and asked him how he would feel if his daughter were to tell him she was lesbian. How often do you think he has been asked that?

In the original NYT article that broke the story, the paper noted Cruz "did not mention his opposition to same-sex marriage, saying only that marriage is an issue that should be left to the states."

As Backlash Grows, Gay NYC Hotelier Issues Apology for Ted Cruz Reception: 'I Made a Terrible Mistake'


Ian Reisner, one of the two multimillionaire gay hoteliers at the center of a firestorm over their decision to host an intimate "fireside chat" and dinner with rabidly anti-LGBT Sen. Ted Cruz, has posted an apology on Facebook writing:

Reisner1I am shaken to my bones by the e-mails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days. 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. I've spent the past 24 hours reviewing videos of Cruz' statements on gay marriage and I am shocked and angry. I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers and employees. I will try my best to make up for my poor judgement. Again, I am deeply sorry.

Reisner had previously issued a press release on Friday touting his support for LGBT causes and defending his decision saying "having an open dialogue with those who have differing political opinions is a part of the political system that this country was founded on."

Reisner's about-face was likely in an attempt to stop the hemorrhaging as gay organizations continue to pull out of fundraisers and events at establishments owned by him and business partner Mati Weiderpass. Yesterday, Drag Race superstar Bianca Del Rio announced her planed AIDS Walk Pep Rally would relocate from XL Nightclub to Stage 48. Some in the Fire Island Pines commercial district have also distanced themselves from the two. 

In related news, a rally and protest endorsed by a number of LGBT Democratic organizations is planned outside The Out NYC Hotel today. You can find out more info HERE

What are your thoughts on Reisner's new apology? 

Update: Weiderpass has issued an apology as well, writing on Facebook:

WeiderpassI share in Ian's remorse. I, too, lay humbled with what has happened in the last week. I made a terrible mistake. Unfortunately, I cannot undo this. You taught me a painful but important lesson. The people that know me know the work that I have done over the last 20 years for the advancement of gay rights. Today, I came to realize that I might have nullified my past efforts and accomplishments in just one week. On the eve of this momentous legal occasion at the Supreme Court, I dedicate myself to work even harder to advance our cause that I share with the LGBT community; our community. Again, to all that I have hurt, please accept my sincerest apologies.

Washington, New York, Connecticut Rescind Indiana Travel Bans


Washington, New York, and Connecticut have all lifted their bans on state-funded travel to Indiana following Gov. Mike Pence's signature on an amended "religious freedom" law that prohibits it from being used to discriminate against LGBT individuals.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued the following notice to cabinet agencies:

Earlier this week, after the state of Indiana passed its Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), IC 34-13-9, I ordered executive-level agencies and small cabinet agencies to prohibit publicly funded non-essential travel to Indiana. I issued my order because Indiana's RFRA opened the door to allowing private companies to discriminate against individuals in that state, in sharp contrast to our own state's long commitment to diversity and inclusion. My order stated that the travel ban would remain in effect so long as Indiana's law existed in its original form.

In response to the intense public criticism stemming from the passage of Indiana's RFRA, the Indiana Legislature moved quickly to fix the law. Yesterday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed legislation amending the law and remedying the most egregious elements of the law. The new amendment prohibits businesses and individuals from refusing service or goods to potential clients based on that client's sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristics. This is a promising step toward greater cultural inclusion and acceptance for LGBT communities. Accordingly, I am lifting the ban on publicly funded non-essential travel to Indiana.

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo's statement:

“After reviewing the amendments made to Indiana’s state law and consulting with LGBT advocacy groups here in New York, I believe the changes enacted by the Indiana Executive and Legislature should prevent the Religious Freedom Restoration Act from being used to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender citizens and travelers. As a result, I am lifting New York's ban against state funded and state sponsored travel to Indiana, effective immediately.  

“Here in New York, we believe that all Americans, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation or any other protected classes, should be treated equally under the law. Our nation's Constitution ensures equality and justice for all. We must never forget that 'all' does not mean 'some', but all of us and we will continue to fight and stand up for equality until it is a reality for all Americans.”​​

Said Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy:

“Unlike Connecticut – which has been a national leader in LGBTQ protections – this is the first time that Indiana has codified any protections for individuals based upon their sexual orientation or gender identity. While the law even in its amended version remains divisive, I believe it is a step in the right direction.
“In 2015, we cannot, and should not, tolerate laws that open the door to discrimination against citizens. We need to actively stand up to them – and that’s what we did this week. We are gratified that several other states, businesses, trade organizations, and so many stood with us, and we are pleased that numerous states besides Indiana have sought or are seeking changes in their laws with the specific aim of preventing discrimination.
“We will continue to monitor other states that enact reforms similar to the original Indiana RFRA, because discrimination in any form is unacceptable. We cannot watch states pass laws that seek to turn back the clock either on Connecticut residents, or our fellow Americans. We have an obligation to do what’s right, and to protect against discrimination whenever and wherever we see it.”
It continues to remain completely legal to discriminate against an individual based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in Indiana. 

Yelp's Open Letter Warning to States Considering Discriminatory 'Religious Freedom' Bills Is Must Read

StoppelmanWhile the list of corporations, politicians and celebrities boycotting Indiana grows, the CEO of Yelp is taking preemptive action to ensure other states understand the economic consequences of choosing to move forward with discriminatory "religious liberty" bills.

In an open letter penned on the Yelp official blog, CEO Jeremy Stoppelman warns that his company "will make every effort to expand its corporate presence only in states that do not have these laws allowing for discrimination on the books."

Stoppelman writes:

A little over one year ago I wrote an open letter to then-Arizona Governor Jan Brewer requesting that she veto SB 1062, a bill that would have allowed businesses in the state to discriminate against consumers. Thankfully she did the right thing and vetoed that legislation, thus maintaining Arizona’s status as a hospitable place for Yelp’s employees to live and for our company to do business.

Since that time, however, legislators in other states have sought to pass, or have enacted, laws that would allow for businesses to discriminate against consumers based on certain traits including sexual orientation. While Indiana is the most recent state to enact a law allowing for this kind of discrimination by businesses, unfortunately measures are being debated in other states across the country that would follow Indiana’s example. These laws set a terrible precedent that will likely harm the broader economic health of the states where they have been adopted, the businesses currently operating in those states and, most importantly, the consumers who could be victimized under these laws.

Just as I said in my letter to Governor Brewer, it is unconscionable to imagine that Yelp would create, maintain, or expand a significant business presence in any state that encouraged discrimination by businesses against our employees, or consumers at large. I encourage states that are considering passing laws like the one rejected by Arizona or adopted by Indiana to reconsider and abandon these discriminatory actions. (We’re looking at you, Arkansas.)

I hope that in the future the legislatures in the nineteen states that have these laws on the books will reconsider their actions. In the mean time, Yelp will make every effort to expand its corporate presence only in states that do not have these laws allowing for discrimination on the books.

I also hope that other companies will draw a similar line in the sand for equality on behalf of their employees and the greater public to persuade legislators to do the right thing and stop or rescind these harmful laws.


Jeremy Stoppelman

CEO, Yelp

In related news, civil rights leader and former NAACP chairman Julian Bond has released a statement blasting Arkansas's proposed bill, saying:

H.B. 1228 in Arkansas opens the door to a hateful past that some had thought this country had left behind. This legislation cloaks discrimination in the guise of religion--and it will mark people of color, LGBT Arkansans, religious minorities and women as second class citizens. Governor Hutchinson has a duty and a moral obligation to veto this legislation or the ghosts of the past will haunt his legacy."

Earlier today, we told you about the campaign to prevent a similar "license to discriminate" bill from becoming law in Georgia.  

Zoe Saldana Doesn't Think Dolce & Gabbana's Anti-gay Remarks Should Affect Her Fashion Choice: VIDEO


Actress Zoe Saldana is the latest celebrity to weigh in on Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s “synthetic children” and gay adoption remarks and despite vocal outcry from multiple celebrities against the designers, Saldana voiced her support for them, saying she won’t stop wearing Dolce & Gabbana reports E! Online. Saldana said that changing her fashion choices because of the fashion duo’s unpopular opinions would be the "stupidest thing."

Said Saldana: 

"No! Not at all, that would be the stupidest thing if it affected my fashion choice…People are allowed to their own opinion, however, I wouldn't have chosen to be so public about something that's such a personal thing. I’m certainly not going to stop wearing Dolce, and I'm certainly not going to be refuting when they are adopting synthetic children, however they wanted to say it. I do think things are lost in translation…

"My husband (Marco Perego) is from Italy and if I judged him based on the words that he misuses in our English language he wouldn't be here today. It's like ‘Look people, have a drink, relax, it's okay.’ Obviously it caused some sensitivity, but then again if you continue to follow the news, you see they all kinda hugged it out, so why are we making a big deal about it?"

Watch Saldana weigh in on the D&G controversy at the GLAAD Media Awards red carpet this weekend, AFTER THE JUMP...

The D&G design duo uttered the now infamous remarks in an interview with Panorama magazine, saying that they oppose gay adoptions. Also, Dolce’s comments calling children born of "chemistry," a reference to IVF, "synthetic children," angered several celebrities including Elton John, Madonna, Sharon Stone and Ricky Martin.

Said Dolce:

"You are born to be a mother and a father. Or at least that's how it should be. I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented wombs, semen chosen from a catalog."

D&gDolce and Gabbana have since backpedaled on their original statements and choice of words, with Gabbana stating "It was never our intention to judge other people’s choices. We do believe in freedom and love." Dolce mirrored Gabbana’s statement saying "I was talking about my personal view, without judging other people’s choices and decisions." Despite the vocal backlash from LGBT supporters, Dolce and Gabbana have since received support, whether they want it or not, from the National Organization for Marriage who called the designers "wonderful advocates for the true definitions of marriage and family."

Continue reading "Zoe Saldana Doesn't Think Dolce & Gabbana's Anti-gay Remarks Should Affect Her Fashion Choice: VIDEO" »


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