Owners of NYC gay hotel face criticism over Ted Cruz dinner

AP News
|
Posted: May 12, 2015 4:28 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — An owner of a gay-oriented New York City hotel lashed out at "extremists" who have urged a boycott over a dinner invitation to Sen. Ted Cruz, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage.

But gay-rights advocates outraged by the invitation to the Republican presidential candidate say they will keep up the pressure by shunning all the properties owned by the men who hosted the dinner.

Hotelier Mati Weiderpass wrote in an op-ed piece in the New York Observer Sunday that since hosting the April 20 dinner he has 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."

"It is amazing that my businesses are being boycotted by some because I hosted a discussion with an elected official," said Weiderpass, who owns The Out NYC in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen with Ian Reisner.

Opponents say Weiderpass and Reisner should have known that inviting Cruz would not sit well with the gay community they cater to.

"Don't take my money with one hand and stab me in the back with the other," said Ken Kidd, who works in administration at New York University.

Kidd said he usually has a summer share in the gay beach community of Fire Island Pines, where Reisner and another partner own businesses including the Pavilion nightclub. If he goes to the Pines this summer, Kidd said, "it'll be for a noisy protest."

The Out NYC was billed as New York's first gay boutique hotel when it opened in 2012. Several guests strolling out of the hotel Tuesday said they were not American and did not know anything about Cruz.

But organizations that had events planned at the hotel including the New York City Gay Men's Chorus canceled them when a story about the Cruz dinner appeared in The New York Times.

Jason Cannon, the chorus' interim executive director, said the chorus canceled an April 25 fundraiser even though a deposit had been paid.

"We needed to make sure that it was very clear to the community that we were in full support of the community," Cannon said.

In his op-ed piece, Weiderpass said the dinner he and Reisner hosted in their apartment was not a campaign fundraiser but an opportunity "to discuss a number of important issues, including support for Israel and support for gay rights."

Although Cruz opposes same-sex marriage, Reisner told the Times that the Texas senator told fellow dinner guests, "If one of my daughters was gay, I would love them just as much."

Weiderpass and Reisner did not respond to a request for comment placed through their business, Parkview Developers.

A spokesman for Cruz declined to comment.