A mentally-disabled New York couple is battling for the right to live together after their respective care homes ruled them 'incapable' of cohabitation.
Despite the ruling, Paul Forziano and Hava Samuels, who tied the knot just last month, have formally launched a lawsuit in a bid to overturn the decisions.
According to reports, Samuels, 36, was told she didn’t possess the mental capacity to consent to sex while Forziano, 30, was told he was incapable of living as a married person.
“It does make me very angry,' said Bonnie Samuels, Hava’s mother, “that people say they want the best and the most for these individuals, or want them to have the type of life that they would like to have and let them grow as much as they can, and yet they're being told no.”
“It's not something we wanted to do, it's something we had to do,” she said in relation to the lawsuit.
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, believes the case is heading into unknown legal waters based on the Americans with Disabilities Act – a law which states “a public entity shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures ... to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability.”
“This is a case that is certainly moving into unchartered territory,” Turley confirmed.
The couple's attorney, Martin Coleman, also said he has not come across any similar court cases.
“What the group homes are saying is that for this class of people, you shouldn't be married,” he said. “What point of intellectual disability is too low for someone to be married?”
The couple's parents say they have reached out to other state-certified group homes to see if they had space. They were told that although other facilities welcome married couples, nothing was available anytime soon, according to the lawsuit.
Their attorney says the couple needs to live near their parents on eastern Long Island, as well as the Maryhaven Day Program, which each has attended for years.