Owner of Gay-Friendly Hotels Apologizes for Hosting a Dinner for Senator Ted Cruz
Gay hotelier Ian Reisner has apologized for "hurting the gay community" after facing backlash for hosting a dinner for Sen. Ted Cruz.
Reisner took to Facebook on Sunday to say that he was "deeply sorry" for meeting with the Republican presidential candidate, who recently sponsored two bills in the Senate to protect states with gay marriage bans, according to Bloomberg.
"I am shaken to my bones by the e-mails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days. I made a terrible mistake," Reisner wrote on his Facebook page. "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."
"I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers and employees," he continued. "I will try my best to make up for my poor judgement. Again, I am deeply sorry."
Facebook users largely rejected Reisner's apology, however, with many accusing him of being "insincere."
"It's inconceivable that any well-informed, aware adult in this country could not know where Ted Cruz stood on issues affecting the LGBT community," Keith Gibbons commented.
"While I respect your apology, how could you NOT know Ted Cruz's views on same sex marriage and gay people in general? Your apology just seems empty and insincere," wrote Chuck Griffin.
Another user, Jerry Lyndon Mallicoat, argued, "An apology is a step in the right direction," but added that the hotelier should have issued a public apology outside of Facebook.
Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, co-owners of the gay-friendly Out NYC Hotel and 80 percent of the commercial property on Fire Island Pines, held the controversial dinner at their New York City penthouse, The New York Times reports.
Two people present at the event told the paper that Cruz, 44, did not mention his opposition of same-sex marriage, and said he would still love his own daughters unconditionally if they were gay.
Gay-rights supporters were quick to criticize the ex-couple and longtime business partners Reisner and Weiderpass, and some formed a Facebook group called "Boycott Fire Island Pines Establishments & Out NYC Hotel."
The group, which had nearly 10,000 likes as of this afternoon, has organized a rally and protest at the Out NYC Hotel on Monday night.
They said in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE, "It is impossible to believe that Mr. Reisner and Mr. Weiderpass had no clue about Senator Cruz's … horrific record towards the LGBTQ community. That thought is actually laughable, as they are both far too embedded in the political arena to make that claim. Mr. Reisner and Mr. Weiderpass chose to be LGBTQ community business owners. They chose to build a 'for-profit' brand within the LGBTQ community. No one forced them into that arena. But with that choice comes a level of responsibility to the community from which you profit. A real and genuine responsibility to stand and protect us."
The boycott has already begun. Tom Viola, the executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, took to Facebook on Friday to cancel an event at the hotel, writing, "I have never considered that all of our many supporters would ever vote monolithically … But when any politician publicly holds so many of us in contempt we cannot be misunderstood as standing with him/her."
Weiderpass has also apologized on Facebook.
"I share in Ian's remorse. I, too, lay humbled with what has happened in the last week. I made a terrible mistake," he wrote on Sunday. "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."