The Reisner/Weiderpass Scandal Reaches New Depths

Sen. Ted Cruz opposes gay marriage. Why were two gay businessmen suprised the LGBT community was upset when they hosted an event for him?

Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

For a certain sort of affluent gay New Yorker, Friday afternoons in the summer mean one thing: a mass migration out of the city to the gay enclaves of The Pines or Cherry Grove on Fire Island. This trip is usually accomplished via the Long Island Railroad and a quick jaunt on a ferry, and I can guarantee what the main topic of conversation will be on those transit systems this afternoon: Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, and the amount of Ted Cruz-supporting crap of which they are full.

You may recall that Christopher Rawlins, a writer, architect, and Pines regular, covered the origins of this ongoing scandal for Outward back in late April, on the eve of a protest at the Out NYC, a gay-focused hotel that Reisner and Weiderpass run together. The short version is that the two men—who were once lovers and are now business partners who share a penthouse on Central Park South—held a dinner and “fireside chat” for vehemently anti-LGBT Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz in their home on April 20. When word of the event got out in the New York Times, the men—who have a relatively high profile in the gay business community because of the hotel and Reisner’s stake in much of the commercial property in The Pines—came under serious and sustained criticism from the people their businesses are meant to serve, including calls for boycotts of both establishments. For their part, Reisner and Weiderpass insisted the event was not a fundraiser, but rather an earnest dialogue on the issues, especially support for Israel, which they share with Cruz.

Since the initial dust-up, the pair have embarked on one of the most risible crisis management campaigns in recent memory. Multiple apologies for fraternizing with one of the worst anti-gay candidates have been issued, only to be undermined by breathtaking statements that the gay community is “cheap” and “entitled” for not making Reisner enough money or full of “extremists” trying to “silence” Weiderpass’ sincere bridge-building efforts.

But a New York Times report published today may be the thing that finally gets these guys excused from polite gay society for good. That line about the shindig not being a fundraiser? Turns out Reisner actually gave the maximum amount allowed—$2,700—to Cruz around the time of the chat, requesting it back only when news of their association broke.

“In the interest of transparency, I gave Senator Cruz a $2,700 check to show my support for his work on behalf of Israel,” Mr. Reisner said in a statement he provided after The Times learned of the donation from two people with direct knowledge of it. “When I realized his donation could be misconstrued as supporting his anti-gay marriage agenda, I asked for the money back. Senator Cruz’s office gave the money back, and I have no intention of giving any money to any politicians who aren’t in support of L.G.B.T. issues.”

Right. So Reisner lied, and, as the Times notes, Weiderpass appears to be clueless, given that he attended an event at which Cruz was a speaker on Thursday night. At one point, these two maybe had a case that the community’s outrage stemmed from its presumed left-leaning political affiliation; but with this new revelation, they no longer have ground to stand on. Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass don’t deserve gay people’s money, and they definitely don’t deserve our respect.