Kelvin Cochran, the now-former Fire Chief in Atlanta, is out of a job after handing out an anti-gay book to all of this employees in the fire department. And it wasn’t just any anti-gay book, it was Cochran’s own anti-gay screed, self-published by the chief.
USA Today described the book as such:
In the self-published book titled “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” Kelvin Cochran referred to homosexuality as “unclean,” “a sexual perversion,” “vulgar” and “inappropriate.”
Cochran was first suspended in November 2014, after employees complained about the internal distribution of the book. After announcing the suspension, Mayor Kasim Reed said,
“I want to be clear that the material in Chief Cochran’s book is not representative of my personal beliefs, and is inconsistent with the administration’s work to make Atlanta a more welcoming city for all citizens — regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race, and religious beliefs.”
On Tuesday, Mayor Reed announced that Cochran had “been relieved of this duty.” Cochran had the option to resign and instead chose to be fired.
Cochran reportedly said after the press conference,
“I’m not apologetic for writing the book.”
“Everything I wrote in the book is based on scriptures, not my opinions.”
“LGBT citizens deserve the right to express their belief regarding sexual orientation and deserve to be respected for their position without hate and discrimination, but Christians also have the right to express their beliefs as well.”
As Simon Brown points out on his Americans United blog:
No one is saying Cochran doesn’t have a right to his beliefs, despicable though they are. But his beliefs called his ability to do his job into question. What if a local gay bar were on fire? Would Cochran do his best to make sure the fire department responded quickly? Given his obvious bias toward gays, it’s hard to say.
Cochran also raised constitutional concerns by proselytizing on the job. Public officials in leadership positions clearly do not have the right to force religious propaganda on their subordinates. Simply writing the book was not a problem; it became one when Cochran passed it out at work.
Technically, Cochran wasn’t fired for discrimination or ‘potential discrimination’, as some on the right, such as Erick Erickson, a Fox News contributor and editor of RedState.com, who, comparing Cochran’s firing to the recent terrorism in Paris, wrote:
“A publisher published something that offended, so the terrorists decided they needed to publicly destroy and ruin the publisher in a way that would not only make that destruction a public spectacle, but do it so spectacularly that others would think twice before publishing or saying anything similar. It is not because the ideas are bad, but because the ideas offend a group that can destroy and tear down.”
“The terrorists did what had to be done to publicly destroy and ruin the offender… And the terrorists won in Atlanta.”
I think he just called Mayor Reed a terrorist. But Cochran wasn’t fired for discrimination. He was fired for violating the city’s code of conduct in releasing the book.
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