Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has said it again and again: He supports traditional marriage between a man and a woman, and wants to prevent the federal government from foisting gay marriage on the states.
He said it in February: “I support traditional marriage and we should reject attempts by the Obama Administration to force same-sex marriage on all 50 states.”
He said it in March: “Now, personally, I believe in traditional marriage between one man and one woman, but if you want to change the marriage laws, the way to do it constitutionally is convince your fellow citizens, go to the state legislature, and change it. It shouldn’t be the federal government or unelected judges imposing their own definition of marriage — we should instead respect our constitutional system.”
He said it when he declared his intention to run for president: “Instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life … (APPLAUSE) … and to uphold the sacrament of marriage.”
And he said it in Iowa as a candidate, as the New York Times reported: “The Fortune 500 is running shamelessly to endorse the radical gay marriage agenda over religious liberty.”
Yet, a gay New York hotelier who hosted a dinner for Cruz has apologized, saying he did not “completely understand” Cruz’s position on gay rights.
“I made a terrible mistake,” Ian Reisner wrote on Facebook. “I was ignorant, naive and much too quick in accepting a request to co-host a dinner with Cruz at my home. … I’ve spent the past 24 hours reviewing videos of Cruz’ statements on gay marriage and I am shocked and angry.”
The bottom line: “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 is owner of the Out Hotel, “a hotel near Times Square that caters primarily to a gay audience, including offering itself as a wedding destination,” as the Times explained. The fundraiser was held at the penthouse of Reisner and his former partner Mati Weiderpass, according to Metro Weekly.
Reisner and Weiderpass were quickly condemned for hosting Cruz. A boycott of their properties organized on Facebook earned more than 8,000 “likes.” And the debacle may have cost $500,000 — the reported cost for dining with the junior senator from Texas.
“I have never considered that all of our many supporters would ever vote monolithically,” Tom Viola, the executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS wrote on his Facebook page, canceling an event at Out NYC. “But when any politician publicly holds so many of us in contempt … we cannot be misunderstood as standing with him/her.”
So: Why did these gay men host a politician many gays view as an enemy? One theory that’s been floated: They did it for Israel.
“The three men are strong supporters of Israel, as is Mr. Cruz,” the Times wrote. “Mr. Reisner, who said members of his family perished in the Holocaust, said Mr. Cruz’s foreign policy views were part of the appeal.”
Indeed, Reisner has hosted benefits for pro-Israel Republicans before.
“We are not too far from history to be wary of politicians who make bad decisions that threaten our lives,” Reisner said after hosting a fundraiser for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) earlier this month, as the Daily Beast’s Jay Michaelson reported. “The deal with Iran concerns me. Anti-Semitic murder in Paris and Copenhagen concerns me. Bringing Senator Johnson to New York to discuss foreign policy and security helped educate my close friends about these very real issues.”
Michaelson characterized Reisner’s behavior as “pinkwashing” — embracing anti-gay Republicans who are pro-Israel because Israel has a good record on LGBT rights.
“What happened in that penthouse was part of a much larger pattern of gay Jewish Republicans putting LGBT civil rights aside, and putting Israel First,” he wrote. “… They may be gay, but they profoundly don’t get it — the ‘it’ being that the same privilege that oppresses gays is the privilege that oppresses people of color, immigrants, women, and the poor — precisely the groups that Cruz’s policies would hurt the most.”
Cruz beat a hasty, if defiant, retreat.
“It speaks volumes that the New York Times considers it newsworthy that a Republican who believes marriage is between a man and a woman would meet with people who hold a different view,” the senator said in a statement, as CNN reported.
But, in case there was any doubt Cruz’s objections to gay marriage were grounded in legal arguments about states’ rights: “He opposes same-sex marriage and supports traditional marriage,” a spokesman said.