Ian Reisner (above, far right) and Mati Weiderpass (above, far left), the two multimillionaire gay hoteliers who hosted an intimate "fireside chat" with Sen. Ted Cruz at their Manhattan penthouse on Wednesday, have both issued statements on Facebook defending their decision.
"For my entire adult life, I have been an ardent supporter and activist for gay rights and LGBT organizations worldwide. I was given the opportunity to have a candid conversation with Senator Ted Cruz on where he stood on issues including the state of Israel and national security, which are the only places where we share common ground. 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 has not changed and will not change."
It seems my informal dinner with the Senator has created a back lash. So there is no misunderstanding, I support gay marriage 100%. I have been a major supporter of gay causes and gay charities for two decades. People on both sides of the aisle need to be able to communicate with one another even when they ideologically disagree. As a Captain in the Army I worked tirelessly for the repeal of "Don't ask, Don't Tell". While serving on the Board of Directors for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network I 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 towards him having a better understanding of who I am and what I believe in. We spent most of the time talking about national security issues and in particular the challenges from ISIS, Iran, and defense of Israel — these are issues for which we did find common ground. However, i did not shy away from the opportunity to ask the Senator about social issues, in particular marriage equality, and made it clear that I completely disagree with him on that issue.
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." Cruz did say, however, that he would "love them just as much" should one of his daughters come out as gay.
The Facebook page launched in the wake of the controversy calling for a boycott of "Fire Island Pines Establishments (Pavilion, Low Tea, High Tea, Botel, Botel Barracks, Pool Deck, Harbor Club, Blue Whale, Cultured Elephant), Out NYC Hotel, and XL Nightclub after owners hold reception for Senator Ted Cruz" sits at over 2,000 likes at the time of this writing.
Weiderpass and Reisner's penthouse apartment made headlines back in October when a 23-year-old Hell's Kitchen gay bar manager was found dead of a reported drug overdose in its bathtub.