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Gay businessman: Hosting dinner for Ted Cruz a "terrible mistake"

WAUKEE, IA - APRIL 25: Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian organization, hosted 9 potential contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nominations at the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson, Getty Images

Facing a boycott of his gay-friendly resorts, hotelier Ian Reisner apologized Sunday for the "terrible mistake" he made in hosting Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for a dinner at his Manhattan home last week.

"I am shaken to my bones by the e-mails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days," Reisner wrote in a Facebook post. "I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers and employees. I will try my best to make up for my poor judgement. Again, I am deeply sorry."

Reisner and his business partner, Mati Weiderpass, hosted a dinner for the Texas senator (and 2016 presidential candidate) on Apr. 20. The men, who are both gay, said they discussed issues on which they agree with Cruz, like the need to strongly support the state of Israel.

The New York Times reported that Cruz soft-pedaled his opposition to gay marriage at the dinner, saying only that it should be a matter left to the states. But Cruz has said he stated his opposition to same-sex marriage clearly.

News of the event lit a fuse in the gay community, thanks largely to Cruz's socially conservative stance on gay issues. The Texas senator has said that being gay is a choice, and he's sponsored legislation that would preserve statewide bans on same-sex marriage in the event of a Supreme Court decision legalizing gay nuptials nationwide.

By Monday morning, a Facebook page calling for a boycott of Reisner and Weiderpass's properties had drawn more than 8,900 "likes" on the site. The two men own OUTNYC, a gay-friendly hotel in Manhattan, and the Fire Island Pines Resort, among other holdings.

In addition, the New York City Gay Men's Chorus canceled an event scheduled for last Saturday at OUT NYC. The chorus did not explicitly blame the dust-up with Cruz for the cancellation, but its leaders explained, "We want to be 100% clear in our support for the LGBTQ community." And Broadway Cares, a non-profit dedicated to HIV/AIDS research, canceled a fundraiser scheduled for next month at a nightclub the two men own.

In his post, Reisner pleaded ignorance, saying he was "naïve and much to 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."

"I've spent the past 24 hours reviewing videos of Cruz' statements on gay marriage and I am shocked and angry," he said.

Cruz weighed in on the controversy during a speech on Saturday at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Summit.

"The only explanation that makes sense to reporters is that anyone who supports traditional marriage...must be somehow motivated by hatred for those who are homosexuals," Cruz said, according to Politico. "It's why this story seems so puzzling to the media."