Main | Tuesday, January 06, 2015

GEORGIA: Atlanta Fire Chief Fired For Handing Out His Anti-Gay Book At Work

On the same day that he returned from his suspension, Atlanta Fire Department Chief Kelvin Cochran was fired today by Mayor Kasim Reed for distributing his self-published anti-gay book to his subordinates. Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Cochran returned to work today following a month-long suspension for inflammatory comments in his 2013 book “Who Told You That You Are Naked?” Many criticized the book as promoting discriminatory and anti-gay views, while Cochran’s suspension has become the focus of a fight over “religious liberty.” Cochran could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday. Among what city leaders said were troubling remarks in the fire chief’s book was a description of homosexuality as a “perversion” akin to bestiality and pederasty. Reed said in November that such writings were inconsistent with the city’s employment policies and opened an investigation into potential discrimination within the fire department. The findings of that investigation have not yet been released.
An opinion column in today's AJC says Cochran forced his own firing by declaring that he would continue to disparage gays and non-Christians at the workplace.
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. (Apparently, Cochran had been advised by the city ethics office against publishing the book, but chose to do so anyway.) And when you have been suspended without pay from your job, as Cochran was, you can’t make it clear during the suspension that you intend to continue such statements and then expect that you’ll be reinstated.
Local LGBT activists are applauding Reed's decision to terminate Cochran. Via the Georgia Voice:
“Certainly we agree with Mayor Reed’s position on this and his rationale for it,” said Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham moments after the announcement was made. Georgia Equality had called for Cochran to be fired. Cochran’s anti-gay views could only make for a hostile work environment, Graham noted. “This is not about his religious views but his about his ability to lead a diverse work force,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that this had to happen. I feel the mayor has done the right thing to ensure all employees are treated fairly.”
When Cochran was first suspended, I predicted that a "new martyr" had been born. As noted in the above-linked reports, since then Cochran has indeed been lionized as yet another victim of homofascism. We expect those screams to become even louder after today.

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