Gay businessman apologizes to LGBT community for 'fireside chat' with Ted Cruz
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

A prominent gay hotelier in New York City has apologized to the gay community for meeting the Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who staunchly opposes same-sex marriage.

Ian Reisner said in a Facebook post on Sunday he was “shaken to the bones” about the response to his meeting with Cruz and called it “a terrible mistake”.

Reisner and his business partner, Mati Weiderpass, hosted the presidential candidate for an intimate “fireside chat” at their Manhattan apartment last week.

At the meeting, according to the New York Times , Cruz said he would still love his daughters if they came out as gay. He also said that states should decided whether to legalize same-sex marriage, but the former comment inspired suggestions that Cruz, who is courting the evangelical vote, was softening his position on same-sex marriage.

This prompted Cruz to reaffirm his opposition. The same week, he had introduced legislation to protect state bans on same-sex marriage.

The meeting with Reisner and Weiderpass drew fire from the gay community, with thousands supporting a boycott of the hoteliers’ properties.

“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,” Reisner said. “I’ve spent the past 24 hours reviewing videos of Cruz’s statements on gay marriage and I am shocked and angry.”

More than 8,800 people have liked a Facebook page calling for a boycott of businesses which include OUT NYC hotel and gay beach resort Fire Island Pines.

The theater industry nonprofit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids canceled a benefit at the hotel’s 42West nightclub, in response to the interview. The fundraiser was scheduled for 10 May, but the foundation’s executive director, Tom Viola, said he could not “in good conscience hold an event at a venue whose owners have alienated our community”.

Last week, Cruz introduced two bills to restrict legal challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage, just as the supreme court prepares to hear oral arguments on Tuesday about whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. It is expected that the court will rule in favor of marriage equality .

But Cruz is seeking a constitutional amendment that would protect states with laws that define marriage as between man and a woman. His second piece of legislation would block federal courts from being able to rule on challenges to such bans until the first piece of legislation is enacted.

“I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers and employees,” Reisner said. “I will try my best to make up for my poor judgement. Again, I am deeply sorry.” © Guardian News and Media 2015