Reports indicate that presidential postulate Ted Cruz attended an intimate gathering of the super-rich this Wednesday night, arranged by two gay business tycoons, and did his hosts the favor of not mentioning plans being rolled out for a new kind of Constitutional amendment.
The event was on Wednesday, and on Thursday Cruz made his true position on marriage equality quite clear. Bloomberg News reports that Cruz is set to propose two bills — one would amend the U.S. Constitution to protect any state that wants to define marraige as only between one man and one woman, while the second would ban any federal court from issuing a ruling related to marriage equality until the constitutional amendment can be passed. Rep. Steve King is proposing the same thing in the House.
The New York Times's Maggie Haberman reports that rhetoric was nowhere to be found Wednesday night in the parlor of Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner, two wealthy hoteliers who were once a couple.
"If one of my daughters was gay, I would love them just as much," Reisner quoted Cruz as saying at the dinner, which is being described as a "fireside chat" and "reception."
In addition, Reisner reported that Cruz told attendees that states should be allowed to decide whether to allow marriage equality. That was already seemingly a departure from his previous position, that a Constitutional amendment should ban the freedom to marry altogether, but what he really meant was made clear immediately with Bloomberg News obtaining copies of the language in the bills he will propose.
“By introducing this heinously anti-LGBT constitutional amendment, Ted Cruz has forced other presidential candidates to take a position,” said the Human Rights Campaign's JoDee Winterhof in a statement today. “Trying to garner support in a field of candidates from the far right, Cruz has no problem using LGBT equality as a wedge issue against fellow Republicans, even as the far majority of Americans strongly support marriage equality. While Cruz is clearly a radical anti-LGBT candidate, the question here is where do his fellow senators stand on these anti-LGBT bills...looking at you Senators Rubio and Paul.”
In the past, Cruz has called marriage equality "a real danger to our country," and said "We should reject attempts by the Obama administration to force same-sex marriage on all 50 states." In 2012, he said that "I believe that engaging in homosexual conduct is a choice," and criticized a proposal to reduce harassment of gay servicemembers.
But the Wednesday fundraising event generally avoided LGBT topics. Attendees were spared hearing about how Cruz criticized a Republican rival for participating in a Pride parade; how he intervened to prevent Texas from recognizing civil unions; how he opposed nondiscrimination laws; and how he did not object to his party's endorsement of "ex-gay" torture camps.
Reisner is the developer behind the hotel Out NYC, and also a Fire Island commercial strip. It's not the first time the home of Reisner and Weiderpass has been in the news. Six months ago, a 23-year-old Brooklyn man died there of a drug overdose. Reports at the time indicated that Reisner claimed that he attempted to revive the man in a bathtub. Police said they did not suspect any criminal activity.
The 4,000-square-foot apartment is a combination of five units, spanning the 16th and 17th floor. Several years ago, they turned down an offer of $15.5 million for it.
Reisner made clear in a statement posted on Facebook on Thursday that he is not a Ted Cruz backer and disagrees with the Texas senator on marriage equality.
"For my entire adult life, I have been an ardent supporter and activist for gay rights and LGBT organizations worldwide," he wrote. "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 hasn't changed and will not change."
Weiderpass also issued a statement distancing himself from Cruz.
"So there is no misunderstanding, I support gay marriage 100 percent," he said. "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 the 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."
For his part, Cruz is using the meeting as a way to bolster his resume as a moderate. He told the Washington Examiner today that the fact he met with the gay men shows he's actually a "big-tent Republican."
"A conservative Republican who is willing to meet with individuals who do not agree on marriage and who loves his daughters unconditionally may not reflect the caricature of conservatives promoted by the left, but it's hardly newsworthy," he said in a statement. "I know it's been a long time since we've seen it, but this is what it means to truly be a 'big tent Republican' instead of a panderer. I'm happy to go anywhere to anyone to champion conservative values."