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.


5minmedia - News - Editors Room

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Felip... FelipesMom

Great post, thank you. It is nice to read something positive amongst all the bad news. And to read the entire post and never come to a negative spin or a snarky or judgmental comment... that was very nice too. Thank you. I know it can't be easy finding something postivie in the news to write about. 

MamaS... MamaSnaps

This is sad. Well, not sad that they've found a home, but that there was only one!


Even nursing homes house couples together who get married-not those who have been married for years and years, but those who get married while in the home. Even when there are significantly different health needs. Why can't they allow for any other couple with care needs? 

Cindy Kottmeier

I think this is great! Love is love after all!

Charlotte Tamisha Lynn Morris

Why couldn't they live together? It's ludacris!!! There are assisted living building and places like Good Sam that let elderly live as a couple and quite a few of them are impaired some way or another. I see a disability focused building as nothing different, they are in a place where they are being cared for and monitored. The only difference in rooming together is the dang cost, which is also ridiculous! I live in a house with my spouse and children, does that mean the rent goes up because more than one person lives there, NO! Keep fighting for what is right my dears! Prayers and love being sent to this couple.

Courtney Cifuni

i love the ending!  i am a group home manager.  my group homes are not coed but my agency has coed group homes/apartments as well as programs with housing for the developmentally disabled who happen to have their own families with children and we teach them how to properly care for the children, etc.  I am so happy these two have each other and now have their own apartment.  how sweet!

hexxuss hexxuss

I think it's crazy that things that should be common sense & common decency have to be fought for so vigorously.  I hope they win that lawsuit and GOOD FOR THEM for fighting for it!!! =)

Lobelia Lobelia

My brother and his wife are mentally disabled. They rent their own house. They have people come and check on them to see if they need anything or any help....make sure theyre doing ok.

Michelle Elkins

i think they should have the same rights as anyone else. just because someone has a disability doesnt mean they shouldnt be able to enjoy life just like those who dont. I support them and everything they are trying to do and i hope things work out for them. they are happy thats all that counts and no one should take that away.

lwalt313 lwalt313

I used to work in nursing homes for mentally disabled and there are rules about this for the safety of other residents. If they were trying to live in a home with other people, then I agree with them not being able to love together as husband and wife for the safety of other residents. We had this situation and the married couple werr allpwed to live together in the same room and then they talked to other residents about it and what they were doing. Other residents (because it was all co ed) started messing around, and then one girl was raped by a male resident because she said didn't understand what was happenimg until she described it at a drs appt and the dr came forward. When they talked to the male resident he didn't understand what he did wrong, he said they was just doing what the married couple did. Co ed mentally disabled groups homes have strict rules about women are not allowed in men's toom and vice versa for this reason. And then the married couple wanted a divorce at one point and all hell broke lose with them and residents taking sides and it was sad and horrible. I do agree there should be individual housing set up for married disabled, but not group homes.

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