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Why We Did It: Gay Hoteliers Open Up About Why They Hosted Ted Cruz

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Almost two weeks after they hosted a dinner – which they insist was not a fundraiser – for Ted Cruz, two gay NYC real estate developers open up about why they did it and what happened before, during, and after – including something about a previous naked game of Twister at the “scene of the crime.”

 

Despite the media calling them prominent businessmen in the gay community, until last month the names Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner would almost certainly draw a “who?” from almost any NYC LGBT person. But today, the former romantic and current business partners who own a gay Hell’s Kitchen hotel they named The OUT NYC, along with several dozen other properties in Manhattan and a reported three-quarters of the land in the very gay-friendly getaway known as the Fire Island Pines, have made a name for themselves, and it’s not a positive one.

The pair hosted virulently anti-gay U.S. Senator and declared Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz in their Central Park South home now almost two weeks ago. When word got out – via a tip some say they gave to the New York Times, and because Weiderpass proudly posted photos on his Facebook page – the LGBT community and their allies went ballistic.

So did Ted Cruz’s supporters – even the Log Cabin Republicans, who in great likelihood will support him if he becomes the GOP nominee. The right quickly reminded the embattled Texas Tea Party darling that a 23-year old had died of a drug overdose in that very apartment just months earlier. 

Protests came quickly, first via social media, and a boycott group on Facebook, and Weiderpass and Reisner say, email. Lots and lots of email. Then, over 100 activists waving signs this past Monday in front of their OUT NYC hotel. 

The pair first issued a press release lauding the dinner. Despite the fact that Cruz was in New York that night to hop from one fundraiser to another to another – reportedly five or six – they claimed in their statement this was not a fundraiser; it was a conversation about Israel, ISIS, and other foreign policy interests the couple say they share with the Senator. The self-congratulatory press release, also an attempt to put out the quickly growing firestorm, lauded their accomplishment of getting Cruz to say he would “unconditionally” love his daughter, were she to be gay.

Later, they backtracked, calling the dinner “a terrible mistake.”

In response to his critics, Cruz claimed he defended traditional marriage during the event, while those there said he merely claimed it should be a states’ rights issue. But Cruz also issue a press release, saying that the dinner proved he is a “big tent Republican.”

In a week during which Republican presidential candidates were racing to or from microphones when asked if they would attend a same-sex wedding, giving the “family values” Texas Tea Partier an opportunity to look good was not really a win for the LGBT community, albeit, fortunately, one for Cruz’s offspring. 

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and several other prominent LGBT organizations canceled scheduled events at The OUT NYC, with Broadway Cares referring to Weiderpass and Reisner as “toxic.”

Also attacking Weiderpass and Reisner was U.S. Congressman Mark Pocan, who penned an open letter to the LGBT community directed at the NYC real estate magnates. “People, we need to get ourselves together,” the Democratic Representative from Wisconsin implored. He added, “let’s not support those who believe we’ll burn in hell because of who we are and who we love.”

And just yesterday, the LGBT Caucus of the New York City Council issued a statement denouncing Weiderpass and Reisner, calling their hosting of Cruz, and a recent fundraiser for Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who is no friend of the gay community, “the height of irresponsibility.”

“Owning businesses that cater to the LGBT community comes with a heightened level of responsibility. For the proprietors of the OUTnyc and Fire Island Pines, hosting anti-LGBT politicians like Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson in their home – for whatever reason – was the height of irresponsibility. We hope that the events of the last week send a message to businesses that serve our community: you cannot make money from our community and support those who don’t support our basic civil rights.”

So, why did they do it?

In an interview with New York Magazine’s Carl Swanson, published late Friday, the pair reveal why, how the dinner came to be, and what happened that night. 

The interview begins thusly:

So this is where Cruz sat?
Reisner: This is the crime scene. Yellow ribbon. 
Weiderpass: A friend of mine, when he saw the article, said, “Wait a minute, don’t you remember when I came over, it was several years ago, and we had a game of Twister in the same exact spot?” And it was actually a game of naked Twister. 
Reisner: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s not go there.

And Reisner explains how the dinner came to be – as it turns out, through a mutual friend. Apparently, Ted Cruz – who days after dining with “the gays” filed two bills to halt same-sex marriage and to make banning it constitutional – has gay friends. 

So how did this dinner happen? 
Reisner: A friend of mine for 20 years, Kalman Sporn, he’s a political strategist. He actually is doing some advisory — was doing some advisory work for the state of Israel for the Cruz campaign. And I think they’ve since put him on hold. He called just a couple days before and said, “I’m going to be at this event with Senator Cruz at the New York Athletic Club, a fund-raiser, and he’s going to be with his wife. Would you like to invite your [business] partner Sam Domb?” Sam is almost 80 years old, an Orthodox Jew, a New Yorker at heart, been here 50 years, owns a lot of hotels — welfare hotels, regular hotels — very strong supporter of the state of Israel, worked for Giuliani, was his campaign manager, I think, unofficially way back when he first started … He’s our godfather; he taught us the business. He’s even the landlord on the Out.

Weiderpass also talks about serving in the Army, how difficult it was to be gay, or to realize you are gay, and be in the service during Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and how he worked with SLDN, an LGBT soldiers’ support and advocacy group to repeal DADT.

He says it was a “natural” for him, “to go up against people” who are against him. And “the opportunity came along to meet somebody who is in the Senate, running for president, is against gay rights … he came to my home for a private dinner, not a fund-raiser. That was absolute — it was not a fund-raiser.”

“There were no checks given,” says Reisner, echoing the insistence. “It was nothing like that.”

And then Weiderpass says he turned the conversation to LGBT rights.

“And so after dinner was over, then I invited the senator’s wife to come sit over here, we had the fireplace going, and then I just sort of eased into it as, I said, you realize that you’re having dinner at a gay household. It was sort of the elephant in the room. And it just came out. And then he says, yes. And then I said to him, I noticed that you only took one phone call the entire night. You know, when you have politicians they’re always on their BlackBerries or sending text messages and stuff. No one took a phone call. He took one; it was for his 7-year-old daughter. So I said that to him and I said, so what would happen if your daughter turned out to be a lesbian? And he said, I would love her just the same.”

And more:

“So now if you have a daughter who’s a lesbian, now the next thing is, now she’s grown up. Where’s she going to get married? Does she have to go shopping around for a state that allows gay marriage? Are you going to go to your own daughter’s wedding? Or are you going to boycott it? Are you going to invite your friends? Are your friends going to be embarrassed to come? How do you reconcile all that? It doesn’t. And that’s what I tried to do in a very polite, respectful way — to create this situation which in your mind is hard to reconcile. And then I asked about, do you have any gay friends? They were so proud to tell us about all their gay friends. So then it’s like, how can you be so anti-gay out there with a platform when you’re bragging about your gay friends? Again, it doesn’t make sense.”

The interview certainly paints a more developed picture of how the dinner-slash-totally-not-a-fundraiser-or-anything-like-that came to be, and what they hoped to accomplish.

But the fact remains that they did this to themselves. The smart thing to do would have been to be transparent and public about the dinner, perhaps include, or at least consult with members of the NYC LGBT community, and not make it seem so self-promotional in the first place.

Are we in an age where people with opposing views can’t even sit together for dinner without the media and each side throwing stones? No. Does making your fortune off a group of oppressed people carry great responsibility to not support those who, as Rep. Pocan said, “believe we’ll burn in hell because of who we are and who we love”?

Hell yes.

 

Image, top, via Facebook
Hat tip: TJ

 

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NOT POLITICAL PRISONERS

4 Top Trump-Supporting House Republicans ‘Demanding Answers’ on ‘Treatment’ of January 6 ‘Prisoners’

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The U.S. Dept.  of Justice arrested and charged over 500 people who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, many in a coordinated effort to overturn a free and fair election. DOJ expects to charge about 100 others as well.

“The investigation and prosecution of the Capitol Attack will likely be one of the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence,” the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. wrote in March, when the list of people to be charged was estimated at about 400, The Washington Post reported at the time.

On Tuesday, as the newly-minted U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack launches, holding its first day of events, four far right wing House Republicans – some of whom has been linked to white nationalists – will be holding a different type of event.

Instead of working to uncover and piece together all the information about what happened on Jan. 6, including what led up to the attempted coup, four GOP representatives – Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene – will hold a press conference on the “treatment” of the January 6 “prisoners,” suggesting they are “political prisoners,” which is false.

The four extremists will hold that press conference Tuesday at 1 PM, “demanding answers on the treatment of Jan. 6 prisoners” from Attorney General Merrick Garland, per a press release.

“This is taking place on the same day as the Jan. 6 select committee’s first hearing,” Forbes’ Andrew Solender reports. House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy “is also holding a presser ahead of that to counterprogram.”

“The lawmakers have all pushed a baseless conspiracy theory that federal agents were behind the attack, with Gosar also casting slain rioter Ashli Babbitt – who was shot by law enforcement while trying to breach the House chamber – as a martyr,” Solender says in a Forbes article.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Groveling Before White Supremacists’: GOP Senate Candidate Slammed for ‘Going Fully Anti-Semitic’

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A Republican candidate for the seat currently held by retiring U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) was both criticized for antisemitism and mocked for accidentally yet accurately linking extremism with conservatism on Monday.

Venture capitalist J.D. Vance, whose former boss, billionaire PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel has invested $10 million in a PAC supporting him, posted the strange tweet attacking the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL is a civil rights organization dedicated to “monitoring, tracking and responding to antisemitism in the United States.” Vance is the author of “Hillbilly Elegy.”

He retweeted this post from disclose.tv and called the ADL “a joke of an organization that just goes after conservatives.”

Some slammed Vance’s tweet as antisemitic:

Others just mocked him for accidentally speaking the truth about “extremist and hate movements.”

 

 

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WHO DO YOU THINK?

Psaki Forced to Explain COVID Basics to Fox News Reporter Asking ‘Whose Fault’ Is It Pandemic Cases Spiking

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday was forced to explain the basics of the coronavirus pandemic to Fox News reporter Peter Doocy after he tried to blame the increase in COVID-19 cases on President Joe Biden, bt asking, “whose fault” is it that the numbers are “going in the wrong direction.”

Naturally, the answer is those who could be vaccinated yet are still refusing to do so.

“On COVID Dr. Fauci says we’re going in the wrong direction. Whose fault is that?” Doocy asked.

“Well,” Psaki replied, “I would say first what he was referring to is the fact that because there are still a large population of people in this country who were unvaccinated. And we have the most transmissible variants that we’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic that more people are getting sick with COVID, and that’s not, those numbers are not moving in the right direction. I think that’s accurate and you can see it by data.”

Doocy works for one of the top conservative cable channels that possibly has spread more coronavirus and vaccine disinformation than almost any other.

Watch:

 

 

 

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