Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has canceled its Broadway Bares: Solo Strips fundraiser, scheduled for May 10, because the venue where it was to be held is owned by the men who recently hosted an event for ultraconservative and antigay Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
"We cannot in good conscience hold an event at a venue whose owners have alienated our community," Broadway Cares executive director Tom Viola wrote on the organization's website today.
The event was to be held at the 42West nightclub in the Out NYC Hotel, which is owned by Parkview Developers. The development firm's managing partners, Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, hosted a reception for Cruz, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Monday night at an apartment they own in Manhattan.
"We do business with and accept fundraising support from a variety of people across a wide spectrum of political and religious affiliations," Viola wrote. "The rich diversity of our community makes what we do together so special. It is a rare instance where the actions of a donor negatively impacts us as an organization and potentially jeopardizes our relationship with others whose support is integral to our success. But when it does occur, in a way that's blatantly against all we stand and work for, we can't pretend it doesn't come with consequences. Silence is not a neutral position. It is complicit.
"This is not about partisan politics or punishment. This is about doing what's right to ultimately ensure that our commitment to the men, women and children we serve cannot be questioned."
Broadway Cares raises funds for a variety of organizations dealing with HIV and AIDS. Those who have already bought tickets for the May 10 event are being contacted by email, Viola wrote.
Reisner and Weiderpass, who were once a couple and have continued to be business partners, have received significant criticism for hosting the event for Cruz, a staunch opponent of marriage equality and LGBT rights generally. There have been some calls for a boycott of the hotel and Parkview's commercial properties on Fire Island.
The men have sought to distance themselves from Cruz. Reisner posted a statement on Facebook emphasizing his support for LGBT causes and the fact that he hosted an event for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton at the Out NYC. The Cruz event, he wrote, provided "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. ... 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."
Weiderpass also issued a statement noting his work for LGBT rights and said, "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. ... 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."
The men reported that Cruz voiced a more moderate view on marriage equality than he has previously, saying the issue should be left to the states. However, his public stance tells a different story: He supports amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage nationwide, and he also would like to strip the federal judiciary of jurisdiction over marriage law.
Cruz today told The Washington Examiner that his attendance at an event hosted by two gay men shows he's a "big tent Republican," but a spokesman for his campaign said in retrospect, Reisner and Weiderpass's apartment was probably not an appropriate venue for the candidate.