March 17, 2015

Gay couple won't leave $15 to $18 million dollar estate to University of Alabama because of state's war on same-sex marriage

For most of more than four decades as a couple, Elliott Mitchell and Clark West have lived quietly, building careers and sharing a deep love for their alma mater, the University of Alabama.
Mitchell, 65, and West, 60, met at UA in 1972 and have been together since. Married in Hawaii in 2013, they live in Sarasota, Fla.
"We've spent most of our lives together being quiet, because of business or not wanting to rock the boat," West said.
But for several years they have worried about opposition to same-sex marriage rights in their home state.
Those concerns have grown since the firestorm that followed a federal court ruling striking down Alabama's same-sex marriage ban, as judges and politicians scramble to deny and delay at every turn.
Mitchell and West are active alumni who gave $1 million to the university a decade ago. But two years ago, they dropped plans to leave their estate, which they say is worth about $15 million to $18 million, to UA.
They say the recent events here reinforce their decision, and they aren't sure they will ever spend another night in the state.
They fear that gay couples in Alabama face a long struggle for rights that won't end even if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down state bans on same-sex marriage this summer.
"They are going to contend every single right that inherently comes with that decision of the Supreme Court," Mitchell said. "If they can find a sufficient reason to delay those benefits, they're going to do it."
Those benefits of marriage, affecting spousal rights, taxes and finances, are what the debate should be about, they say.
"We never expect and never want people to change their religious views," Mitchell said. "Just give us a document that gives us the same rights as you have."
Some Alabama counties, but not all, issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples temporarily after the ruling in January by U.S. District Judge Callie Granade.
But the Alabama Supreme Court ordered a halt to same-sex marriages on March 3.
That decision came in response to a request from two groups, the Alabama Policy Institute and the Alabama Citizens Action Program.
Eric Johnston, a lawyer for ALCAP, said the law, at least for now, is on Alabama's side.
Johnston noted that even the Supreme Court decision in 2013 striking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, hailed as a victory for gay marriage rights, indicated that it was up to states to define marriage.
Eighty-one percent of those voting approved Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage in 2006.
"We have a right in Alabama to define marriage," Johnston said.
Native sons
West grew up in Dothan, son of a Southern Baptist minister. He said he has known he was gay since he was 3.
Mitchell is from Birmingham. His parents abandoned him and his siblings when he was 7, and he lived in the Baptist Children's Home in Troy.
Mitchell was moved to a group home in Birmingham when he was a teenager. He attended Banks High School, sold Cokes at Legion Field and fell in love with Crimson Tide football.
Both men found professional success after graduating from UA.
Mitchell rose to executive positions in the corporate world and later became a real estate developer.
West is a licensed mental health counselor.
They teamed up to build condo developments in the Florida panhandle for about 15 years, up until about 2005.
They have bought season tickets at Bryant-Denny Stadium for years.
About 10 years ago, they gave $400,000 each to UA's colleges of arts and sciences and business and $200,000 to the athletics department.
A few years ago, they floated to UA officials an offer to fund what would be a new community outreach center. Its mission, in part, would be to help members of the LGBT community. They got little response.
In 2013, they wrote a two-page letter to UA President Judy Bonner and the Board of Trustees, explaining why they were dropping their plans to leave their estate to the university. In part, it was because they saw no interest in advancing same-sex marriage rights.
"We understand the conflict of well-intended people struggling to find balance with this issue," they wrote. "But, we also realize there is no support in the legislature or initiatives at the University to create a dialogue. Instead, there is a very strong and continued effort by the state and the majority of its citizens to exclude this group in every way possible."
The university did not respond.
UA President Bonner issued a statement to when asked about the concerns of Mitchell and West and their decision to change their minds about leaving their estate to the university.
"Elliott Mitchell and Clark West have been loyal members of the UA family for many years, and we very much appreciate their unprecedented generosity and support for their alma mater," Bonner said.
"During my term as president of The University of Alabama, I have enjoyed several opportunities to talk with them, especially about the progress we have made regarding issues that are important to them. ... Elliott and Clark will continue to be valued members of the UA family, and we look forward to many years of working with them to make a difference in the lives of our students."
Mitchell said he understands that the university, dependent on state funding, must be sensitive to the whims of state politics.
But in their letter, he and West suggest the university could make a difference by taking up the cause of equality.
"You are welcome to share our situation with anyone you believe will be helpful in encouraging Alabama to provide equality to all its citizens," they wrote. "You have done it before and you can do it again. We do not want anything from you, just a recognition that all decisions have consequences."
Mitchell said the legal climate in Alabama is a key reason for not wanting to leave their money in the state.


  1. Good for them. Smart decision.

  2. The love of money is the root of all evil. So the college won't get 15 million. So what. When these two sodomites die, they will get the wrath of GOD for choosing the abomination of anal sex as their god.

    Someone has to stand up to these sodomite Nazis. Time for people to realize that the end times are here as what is good will be evil and what is evil will be good. To say..."Let them do what they want as long as it does not affect me" is also a sin. We are to warn the wicked. Jesus spoke more on sins of omission than on sins of commission. It is a sin not to tell others that they are on the wrong path. If you support the sins of others, you are in effect also doing that sin. You will be held responsible at judgement.

    What good will their money be when they have lost their souls and spending eternity in a place that they wish they were not.

  3. If there is a God, you are going straight to hell. Hating someone for something they have no control over is not very christian of you. If anything the LGBT community will go to heaven over you, as they embrace and live their live honestly and openly. Hate is a sin. Don't start quoting the bible as it is all a fairy tale created by man to control others. God gave us all a brain and the ability to reason, to let each live their lives as they seem fit. Go ahead and keep wasting your life hating others, maybe this is your hell on earth, as the supreme court will legalize gay marriage, just like they corrected other discriminatory laws, like granting women the right to vote, all the civil rights laws. So you might as well kill yourself now!!!

  4. I do not hate George the Nazi Sympathizer Soros. As a matter of fact, I pray that he REPENTS.
    Your views do not coordinate with GOD's WORD that says that those that practice sodomy are an abomination before GOD. In Jude 1:7
    - Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner,
    giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh,
    are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

    You see, it is not me that your argument is with. It is with GOD and in that case, you always lose.

    GOD hates sin. GOD hated Easu. GOD hates those that take his WORD and uses it to justify sin. GOD right now hates you for you just used his word to justify your evil ways.

    I will quote the BIBLE as often as I can because you are a fool. The WORD of GOD, the Bible, is so correct as to be perfect. You may not like that and that is too bad for you. You have a guilty conscience SODOMITE.

  5. I have no guilty conscience, I think it is you that may have the homosexual leanings. Those that doth protest too much, are usually hiding something. Let's face it you are gay, but conflicted because of your beliefs in a fairy tale called the bible. Do you also believe that god created the earth in 7 days, even though science and radio carbon dating prove the earth is billions of years old? Everyone is entitled to their beliefs in America and I respect that. From what I recall from Sunday school class is that god loves everyone, no matter what for we are all his children, god hates no one and forgives all sins, so what is the point. Religions and the bible were created to control man, make him believe that he will be judged and if not good will go to hell. How do you know that we are not in heaven right now? Religions have killed more people in the name of god and for what?

  6. Whatever. You are human excrement.

  7. What you don't know is that I am really GOD, and you just called me human excrement. I am making a list and checking it twice, and even though I forgive all sins, I also forget nothing!

  8. You will need to seek a mental health care professional.

  9. So you call me crazy because I say I am GOD, yet you believe in a fairy tale book called the bible, and that Moses parted the red sea, god created adam & eve and we are all related to them, which is called incest, and that if you live by all those impossible rules you will be rewarded a seat in heaven, where you will float around with god and all the others that were good enough to get to heaven. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Now I command you to go read your bible or I will admonish you to hell........signed GOD

  10. This will be my last comment to you.
    Enjoy hell.

  11. NOt in your eternity. In hell, you see no one as you are by yourself. You have no friends or family.

    Your comment shows the ignorance that you are involved in. Ignorance can be cured. If you decide to stay ignorant, then you are then stupid and stupid cannot be fixed.

  12. If I am ignorant because I don't believe in a fairy tale, so be it, but you are very ignorant also and self righteous to believe that you or your religion is the "one", as there are thousands of different religions, that all believe that their religion is correct. Actually, I think you are even more ignorant to have such a closed mind, I feel sorry for you.

  13. Whatever. I am done with you......for you are the swine that the Bible says not to cast pearls to. Enjoy your life for that is all you will ever to be able to enjoy.

  14. Oink, oink. I do enjoy my life to the fullest, and have no regrets, since I know I am a good person, and treat others how I want to be treated. Good luck trying to live a life based on the unrealistic expectations of the bible. I bless you!