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Fire Chief Fired Over Anti-Gay Book Files Federal Religious Civil Rights Lawsuit

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Atlanta’s former fire chief isn’t taking his termination sitting down. He’s kept his name in the news, rallied support, and just filed a federal lawsuit against the city and its mayor.

Last year, Kelvin Cochran self-published a religious-themed book that identified himself as the City of Atlanta’s Fire Chief, which he was. He also reportedly handed out and discussed the book with city employees who reported to him, including its exceptionally controversial anti-gay passages.

The book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?, currently selling on Amazon, includes lies and rhetoric about LGBT people, including comparing them to people who have sex with children and animals.

“Uncleanness,” in Cochran’s book, is described as “whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion.”

In November, Chief Cochran was suspended from his job by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. When he returned, Mayor Reed fired him.

Reed was quite clear that Cochran was fired not for his religious beliefs, but for publishing the book without having the city’s ethics commission clear it, as it city policy, and for his behavior during his suspension. 

“His religious (beliefs) are not the basis of the problem,” Mayor Reed said about Cochran’s firing. “His judgment is the basis of the problem.”

“When you have more than 1,000 people working under your command, you can’t go around publicly suggesting that some of them are perverts on a par with those who indulge in bestiality or child sexual abuse, as Cochran did in a self-published book. When you serve as a top manager in a government that has pledged not to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation, you can’t suggest to workers that such discrimination might be justified, as Cochran did by distributing copies of that book to his subordinates.”

But Cochran, ignoring the stated facts of his firing, has successfully grabbed headlines and the support of some of the nation’s top anti-gay and religious activists.

Today, through his attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Cochran filed a federal lawsuit (PDF) claiming religious discrimination and civil rights violations. He is suing to be given his job back, along with back pay and damages for suffering and emotional distress.

The lawsuit claims Cochran’s firing “sends the message that Christians that share Cochran’s beliefs are not eligible for City employment simply as a result of their religious faith.”

It also states that “Cochran as a Christian and member of a Christian church belongs to a protected class,” and claims the Mayor and the City “terminated Cochran because of his religious belief and viewpoint against same-sex marriage and the morality of homosexual conduct.” 

 

Image via Wikimedia

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