Can a gay activist support Ted Cruz?
Apparently not, judging by the angry firestorm and calls to boycott after two gay businessmen, Ira Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, hosted an event for the Republican presidential hopeful in their NYC apartment last week.
Reisner, who is Jewish, told the New York Times that although he doesn’t agree with Cruz’s social politics, the event focused on his firm defense of Israel. But what about the senator’s vocal and active campaign against gay marriage? Reisner replied that Cruz’s position was irrelevant since same-sex marriage is already “done — it’s just going to happen,” according to the Times.
Since then, however, Reisner and Weiderpass have borne the brunt of a grassroots campaign by some in the LGBT community to boycott their businesses, which include popular gay-friendly hotels and clubs in NYC and on Fire Island.
After the immense backlash, both Reisner and Weiderpass posted public apologies to Facebook.
“I made a terrible mistake,” wrote Reisner. “I was ignorant, naive and much too 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.”
Jay Michaelson, writing for the Daily Beast, lambasted the pair for prioritizing Israel over gay rights, arguing that in fact the two issues are interrelated.
“Hard-right conservatives are hard-right on Israel for the same reasons they’re hard-right on anti-LGBT and anti-choice politics,” Michaelson writes. “It’s a whole package.”
And yet, Michaelson dismisses the defense that the Cruz event included “a discussion of gay rights in Israel versus the rest of the Middle East,” as the Times reported. He calls this hypocritical “pinkwashing,” which he sums up as “the highlighting of Israel’s excellent record on LGBT equality as a way of defending its totally unrelated policies regarding Palestine or Iran.”
But if Cruz’s foreign and social policies are inseparable — “a whole package,” Michaelson declares — how come Israel’s are suddenly “totally unrelated”? And if you can say, “I like this about Israel but not that,” why not the same for Ted Cruz? Is Cruz’s position on gay marriage — which, after all, is virtually identical to the position Obama ran on in this past election — so offensive that anyone who supports even his foreign or economic policy should be boycotted?
What Michaelson and other Reisner-critics don’t seem to grasp is that, yes, it’s possible to like one thing about a candidate and dislike another. Politics are complex, with dozens of issues competing for attention and support, and it’s okay to pick and choose.
Diane Sawyer just publicly learned this lesson in her blockbuster interview with Bruce Jenner, the former Olympic champion and Kardashian-dad who announced that he’s transitioning to become a woman.
More shockingly to some, he announced that he’s politically conservative and has “never been a big fan” of President Obama.
“Are you Republican?” Sawyer asked, incredulous.
“Yeah,” Jenner replied, then added in response to Sawyer’s tone, “Is that a bad thing?”
Who knows, Bruce Jenner might even support Ted Cruz. And if so, what then…boycott Jenner?!