This NYT story, an obvious attempt at a gotcha that’ll damage Cruz among his base, will do more damage to the two businessmen within their own circle of allies, I suspect. It’s one thing for Ted Cruz, social conservative, to socialize with gay friends. It’s another for gays to socialize with — gasp — Ted Cruz, social conservative.

During the gathering, according to two attendees, Mr. Cruz said he would have no problem if one of his daughters was gay. He did not mention his opposition to same-sex marriage, saying only that marriage is an issue that should be left to the states.

The dinner and “fireside chat” for about a dozen people with Mr. Cruz and his wife, Heidi, was at the Central Park South penthouse of Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner, longtime business partners who were once a couple and who have been pioneers in the gay hospitality industry.

“Ted Cruz said, ‘If one of my daughters was gay, I would love them just as much,’” recalled Mr. Reisner, a same-sex marriage proponent who described himself as simply an attendee at Mr. Weiderpass’s event…

Mr. Cruz also told the group that the businessman Peter Thiel, an openly gay investor, is a close friend of his, Mr. Sporn said. Mr. Thiel has been a generous contributor to Mr. Cruz’s campaigns.

If you think, as the NYT obviously does, that opposing gay marriage necessarily means you’re driven by hatred of gays, then yeah, that’s one odd dinner party. And in fairness, some of Cruz’s rhetorical flourishes during the gay rights/religious liberty debate did make him seem less likely to attend an event at the home of SSM supporters than, say, Jeb Bush might be. But Cruz doesn’t categorically oppose gay marriage, as the Times is forced to admit. He’s personally opposed but thinks the states should decide, even if that means the practice is gradually legalized. Nor is it news that Cruz’s base includes some prominent gay right-wingers. Peter Thiel, a libertarian, has been donating big bucks to him for years, starting back when he ran for AG of Texas. Weiderpass and Reisner are apparently strong supporters of Israel, an obvious point of common ground with Cruz. Other potential Cruz backers, although straight themselves, are outspoken in supporting gay marriage despite their alliance on most other issues with the GOP. The most famous example: David Koch, one half of the “Kochtopus” that haunts lefty dreams nightly. Cruz seems to respectfully disagree with most SSM supporters, assuming they’re not trying to shut down pizzerias for declining to cater gay weddings, and some famous SSM supporters seem to respectfully disagree with him. (Shucks, even Mike Huckabee cops to having gay friends.) If you liked him before reading this, why would you like him less now?

But I don’t know. Maybe I’ve achieved a status of such candy-ass RINO-hood that the Times’s radar on what will and won’t alienate social conservatives is better than mine. Supporting gay marriage obviously will alienate them. Attending a gay wedding might (although opinion seems to be divided on that) for a similar reason, namely, that some who regard marriage as a sacred union between men and women conclude that that means they shouldn’t tacitly recognize a gay marriage by witnessing it. It’s not clear what sacred precept is violated, though, by saying you’d love your daughter no less if she were gay; it’s even less clear which one forbids having dinner at a gay friend’s home. But I’ll leave that to the comments to hash out. In the meantime, WaPo finds 61 percent now support gay marriage, a new high nationally although not dramatically higher than the numbers have been in recent years. Republican opposition is strong at 34/63, but interestingly not as strong when you ask whether states should be allowed to ban the practice. In that case, support stands at just 52/45. Maybe there’s some small section of SSM opponents who think that gays nonetheless have a constitutional right to marry. Other than that, I’m not sure what explains the discrepancy.