Mentally Disabled Newlyweds Banned From Doing What All Other Married Couples Do

Paul Hava Forziano

All Paul and Hava Forziano wanted to do was live together as husband and wife. But they couldn't. They couldn't because they are mentally disabled and needed to live in a group home where they could have help if they needed it. But no group homes would accommodate their request to live together. I can't imagine why, there must be reasons. But Paul and Hava weren't having it. They filed a lawsuit to have the same rights any couple have. It's still pending, but already they have found a way to live together. And they're ecstatic about it.


A group home in Riverhead, New York offered to let Paul and Hava live together as man and wife in a one-bedroom group home apartment. They just moved in and are looking forward to their first Fourth of July together -- significant because this is Independence Day and a group home allows them to live independently.

"Gone are the days where parents are told a kid has a disability, institutionalize them, and forget they ever existed," said the director of their group home, East End Disabilities Associates, which agreed to let them move in and reside together. "Now we have people growing up in the community and they want to do things just like everybody else does, and getting married and possibly getting divorced is one of the things that goes on in a community."

But just because the couple now get their wish doesn't mean they're dropping their lawsuit. For one, they want all couples with disabilities to have the same option. For another, they may want to move someday, which would be impossible if only one group home in the entire state allows this.

While it seems inconceivable that it would be an issue for a mentally disabled couple to live together, it wasn't that long ago that mentally disabled people -- or even physically disabled people -- had barely any options at all where to live. A friend of mine, who is in a wheelchair after being stabbed by a random man several years ago, actually had to live in a homeless shelter for years because she couldn't locate any apartments that were wheelchair accessible. Now she lives in disability housing. But no one offered it to her. She became an activist and fought long and hard for her rights to live like anyone else would want to live.

So, yeah, these things have to be fought for. They have to be forced. There often have to be lawsuits. It would be nice if people like Paul and Hava could say, "Hey, we're married. We love each other. Let us live together," and everyone thought that made sense and it just happened. But for some strange reason, the world is not like that! Look at gay people. How long and hard they've had to fight and still fight.

So Paul and Hava have their own personal happiness now -- but they are fighting for the personal happiness of countless others. That's awesomely inspiring.

What do you think of this couple?


Image via AOL

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