Voice for Equality: Bringing the freedom to marry to N.Y., Dina-style

Dina Manzo, who is best known for having appeared on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, is a mother, interior decorator, and the founder of the non-profit organization Project Ladybug. She and her family live in the affluent town of Franklin Lakes, NJ. She has been married to Tommy Manzo, co-owner of the event and catering facility The Brownstone, since 2006. Manzo is her second husband. Tommy's brother and business partner is the husband of Dina's older sister and cast mate, Caroline, making the two both sisters and sisters-in-law. Their wedding was featured on the VH1 television show My Big Fat Fabulous Wedding.

A lot of reality stars say they support gay rights, but this former Housewife is putting her money where her mouth is by producing My Big Gay Italian Wedding off-Broadway in New York.

As posted by Neal Broverman on advocate.com in June of 2010:

"Dina Manzo — the most glamorous, and rational, star of The Real Housewives of New Jersey — dropped a bomb last week when she revealed she was departing the increasingly loony reality show. While bankruptcies, plastic surgery, and allegations of drugs, prostitution, violence, and pretend lesbianism swirl around her cast mates, Manzo called it a day.

"But on Thursday, Manzo will gather with three of her former cast mates — sister Caroline Manzo, sister-in-law Jacqueline Laurita, and bestie Teresa Giudice — for a special performance of My Big Gay Italian Wedding, the off-Broadway comedy that Dina is coproducing. The show, at St. Luke's Theatre in New York, takes place as the Big Apple's gay-pride celebration kicks off; the performance serves as a fundraiser for Marriage Equality New York.

"While Dina, who has a gay brother, declined to speak about controversial RHONJ's Danielle Staub's recent Sapphic forays (two weeks ago on Dina's blog, she rhetorically asked Staub, 'Are you going to date a woman to prove to the world that you are so gay- friendly? I wouldn’t put it past you.'), she had a lot to say about gay rights and possibly returning to the show.

"Hi, Dina. How did you get involved with My Big Gay Italian Wedding?
I'm very dear friends with the writer, who's also one of the stars, Anthony Wilkinson. And I went to see the play. He had a preview of it in Staten Island, and I just loved it. I fell in love with what it stands for, obviously. I told him, 'Now is the time to bring this a little further with the freedom to marry being in the spotlight. We can have people who were a little hesitant to approach the topic come and see it and laugh and see how heartfelt and funny it is, and approach it in a different way — open some other minds to the possibility of equality.'

"Is this your first time being a producer?
Yes, it is. I'm having fun. I don't think it's going to be my last production, that's for sure. And obviously, we're going places with this production, but I love the whole thing. Being part of the casting process was very exciting.

"So what can people expect on Thursday?
Well, Thursday's going to be a lot of fun. Obviously, all the girls are going to be there. The play is just amazing. It has some really heartfelt points. Of course, it's hilarious. And what I love about this particular production is sometimes in certain plays you walk away and there's like one character that really stands out. But with this play, every single one of the characters you'll fall in love with. Except for maybe one, who's a sort of villain. Everyone is just hysterical, and everyone in the audience is going to relate on some level. And the jokes — some of them you won't catch until like a minute later, and you'll just die laughing. 

... "And the performance is a benefit for Marriage Equality New York, right?
Yes, absolutely. Since we started, a portion of the proceeds has gone to Broadway Impact, which is also for equality. And everything I do, I like to have it based on charity. So this is my part. And when we discussed the play, I said, 'You know, I think it would be awesome if part of the ticket price goes to the cause.' And of course, everybody agreed and thought it was a great idea. And to know that every single person who goes there is fighting for the cause is a great thing.   [Link]

Freedom to Marry salutes Dino Manzo as a Voice for Equality!

If Ms. Manzo's support inspires you, take action and sign the Freedom to Marry pledge.