Between one disability and another

MAY2013LI

The newlywed Forziano’s in Wading River, NY

On a promising April day in the county of Suffolk, one man and one woman were married in Long Island, New York. The groom is Paul Forziano (29) and the bride Hava Samuels (35) have known each other for years and wanted to make their relationship official. But hold on a moment. The couple has been kept apart since they both were living in group homes and both homes have claimed them to be “too intellectually disabled to live together.” Claiming that they don’t have the intellectual ability to live together as husband and wife is an opinion that will have to be decided by the courts. That is unless the group homes come to an agreement and make arrangements or transfer the couple to a “host home.” It seems ironic that politicians are fighting so hard for gay marriage that the rights and expression of love between one man and one woman is being denied based on their intellectual disability.

Attorneys for the couple are taking the matter to Federal Court claiming that the two group homes and the state are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. Surprisingly the judge is considering the defendants’ motion to dismiss.

The Forziano’s are only permitted to see each other once a week for dinner, and spend the weekends together at their families’ homes from Friday night to Sunday.

Mrs. Forziano, resides at Independent Group Home Living, and Paul Forziano,  lives at Maryhaven Center for Hope, both in Manorville, NY.

In other cases Intellectually Disabled people have been married and have lived together and some have even had children. At Friendship Fellowship in Colorado there has been a movement to start churches based on people’s intellectual disability and to encourage expression of faith. “Marriage is an expression of faith,” one of the pastors told us. Just last month in Colorado Springs many people received their first communion at Friendship at Easter time. “there were questions and answers and there was joy and blessing, but most of all their was understanding and expression of that understanding. Marriage is the same thing. To get to the point in your life to ask someone to spend the rest of your life with them, shows understanding. According to the disabilities newspaper Able News, a Long Island publication, “the agencies have no legitimate reason for denying housing to The Forzianos.” The fear of the group homes is “if the plaintiffs do win the case, it would set a precedent.” This is not the case because similar agencies in New York State have housed married couples successfully for many years.

“The agencies believe that people who need supervised group homes are too intellectually disabled to live in the same home as a couple,” said Coleman. “For some reason, the agencies think it would cause problems. But there are several group homes in this region that have accommodated married couples with no problems.“

The couple met seven years ago at a day rehabilitation program. Nearly 200 guests attended the Forziano wedding, in Wading River, NY.

Have a comment on this story? E-mail Friendshipfellowship@juno.com.

1 Comment

  1. May 10, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    […] Between on disability and another. […]


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