A gay couple is withholding millions of dollars from their alma mater, the University of Alabama, over the state’s stance on same-sex marriage.
Elliott Mitchell and Clark West met at the university in 1972 and have been together since. They married in Hawaii in 2013 and now live in Sarasota, Florida.
The couple, who earned much of their fortune in real estate, gave $1 million to the university about 10 years ago, reported AL.com, and they had intended to leave their estate – valued at about $15 million to $18 million – to UA.
However, the longtime season-ticket holders for Alabama football decided about two years ago to cancel those plans over the legal status of LGBT people in their home state.
The couple notified UA President Judy Bonner and the Board of Trustees in 2013 that they were dropping plans to leave their estate to the university over the state’s view on same-sex marriage.
“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 never responded.
Mitchell said he understood UA was dependent on public funding and could not afford to offend taxpayers or elected officials, but he said the university could have made a difference for equality.
"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."
A federal judge recently struck down the ban on gay marriage, but judges and elected officials in the state have refused to comply with court orders allowing same-sex weddings.
Now the 65-year-old Mitchell and 60-year-old West say they might never set foot in the state again.
"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."