Disabled Couple Sue for Right to Live Together

Federal civil rights lawsuit is first of its kind in US

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted May 7, 2013 12:47 PM CDT

(Newser) – She fell for his knock-knock jokes. He fell for her beauty. Paul Forziano and Hava Samuels, who finish each other's sentences, met in a performing arts program and talked about marriage for three years before getting hitched last month. But they also both have developmental disabilities, so they are forced to end each day apart, in separate group homes, as required by the state-sanctioned nonprofits that run those homes. The couple, along with their parents, is challenging that policy in the first lawsuit of its kind in the country. Forziano's facility says anyone who requires the services of a group home is incapable of living as part of a married couple, while Samuels' home says she doesn't have the mental capacity to consent to sex.

The AP delves into the legal murkiness surrounding the case, noting that it will be a test of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which requires public entities to make reasonable concessions in order to avoid discrimination. The couple's parents say other nearby group homes offer accommodations for married couples, but have no openings. A legal expert says the case is "uncharted territory." For Samuels and Forziano, it's simpler: "I'm not happy. We live apart," Samuels says. "We're very sad when we leave each other," adds Forziano. "I want to live with my wife, because I love her."

Paul Farziano and Hava Samuels pose during an interview on Thursday, April 25, 2013 in Port Jefferson, NY.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Paul Farziano hugs his wife Hava Samuels as they sit in a park on Thursday, April 25, 2013 in Port Jefferson, NY.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
In this April 7, 2103 photo provided by Bruce Presner, Hava Samuels strokes the cheek of her new husband, Paul Farziano, as they dance on their wedding day.   (AP Photo/Bruce Presner)
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