UPDATE: Chief Kelvin Cochran suspended for one month without pay by Mayor Kasim Reed.

Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran’s self-published book “Who Told You That You Were Naked” is filled with anti-gay language, leading city officials to open an investigation.

Cochran’s book, available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, includes such language as:

• “Uncleanness — whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion.”

• “Naked men refuse to give in, so they pursue sexual fulfillment through multiple partners, with the opposite sex, the same sex and sex outside of marriage and many other vile, vulgar and inappropriate ways which defile their body-temple and dishonor God.”

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The GA Voice sought comment from Cochran and the Fire Department and instead received this statement from Mayor Kasim Reed’s office:

“The Reed administration was not notified of the book before it was published. The Reed administration will not tolerate discrimination of any kind. In fact, the city of Atlanta has a number of laws that prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as race, color, religion, and sex. The Reed administration is currently conducting a review of the facts surrounding the book. If disciplinary action is recommended as a result of the investigation, we will take decisive action to prevent any inappropriate behavior from occurring in the future,” said spokesperson Anne Torres.

 

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Atlanta just received a 100 score on the Human Right Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which includes scoring on nearly 50 factors under six broad factors including non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, city employment policies, inclusiveness in city services, law enforcement and city leadership on matters of LGBT equality. Atlanta has been the only city in the Deep South to score a 100 two years in a row.

Cochran’s book also includes an author page and describes him as a “devout Christian man” whose “greatest desire is to fulfill the purpose of God for his life and to be living proof of God’s exceeding great and precious promises.” Cochran is also a member of Elizabeth Baptist Church and serves as a deacon and teacher, according to the book’s author’s page.

Retired Atlanta Fire Department Captain Cindy Thompson, who is openly gay, was informed of the book by other firefighters who were disturbed by the book. Thompson, who retired in 2009 after 30 years with the department, contacted the GA Voice to get the word out about the anti-gay book. Today she she said she talked with Robin Shahar, the LGBT liaison for Mayor Reed’s office, about the book and the worry from local firefighters.

“I talked to her a long time. She was pretty shocked by the book herself, I believe. She wished some employees had come forward. But they are not that comfortable. Even though they are to be protected by doing so, some don’t feel that way. And also [speaking out] can follow you,” Thompson said.

Thompson, who now lives in California with her partner, has family in Atlanta and is visiting here for the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s when the fire department employees happened to catch her and ask her for her help.

“This is highly disturbing. I can’t quite believe it, especially since he attached his name and his job to it. That pretty much says how the department thinks,” Thompson said.

Thompson said she knew Chief Cochran while she worked at the department but “didn’t know this side of him.” She did say she knew he was a religious man and because she had “bad vibes” about him she voluntarily took a demotion from battalion chief to captain. “I just didn’t get a good feeling from him,” she said. “Now I see this book and know I was right all along.”

If an employee of the fire department wrote this book and attached their name and title with it, Thompson said she’s sure they would face a stiff penalty, if not termination. She said she believes Cochran should face the same kind of punishment, if not stricter.

“I think he should be held to a higher standard. If you’re going to publicize something, a book or publication, you’re supposed to get it approved,” she said. “So he didn’t get it approved. In my personal opinion, I don’t think he should be working there. If someone is writing a book against other groups, like a member of KKK writing something … Atlanta doesn’t tolerate stuff like that. This doesn’t follow any of the anti-discrimination policies or general feeling of the city.”

And by putting his name and title with the book, Chief Cochran is essentially saying that this is what the city of Atlanta’s fire department believes as well.

“It reflects on the department. People can buy this book and think, ‘This must be their beliefs,'” she said. “And that shouldn’t be allowed.”

Background on Cochran from the city of Atlanta’s website includes this information:

Chief Cochran’s began his career in the fire service in 1981 as a firefighter for the Shreveport, La., Fire Department. He was promoted to fire training officer and served in this capacity from 1985 to 1990, when he became assistant chief training officer. He was appointed the Department’s fire chief on August 26, 1999.

On January 2, 2008, Chief Cochran was tapped by Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin to serve as Fire Chief for the City of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department. He served in that capacity until July 2009, when President Barack Obama appointed him as U.S. Fire Administrator for the United States Fire Administration in Washington, D.C. In that capacity, Chief Cochran was charged with overseeing, coordinating, and directing national efforts to prevent fires and improve fire response. He worked extensively with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

On May 8, 2010, Chief Cochran returned to Atlanta to resume the position of fire chief. His nomination was unanimously confirmed by the Atlanta City Council on August 16, 2010.

Chief Cochran has more than 28 years of fire service experience with involvement in all phases of the profession: fire fighting, emergency medical services, hazardous materials, recruiting, public education, research and development, employee counseling, discipline, performance evaluation, and administration, with specialization in training and strategic planning/facilitating. He has held positions with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), serving on the board of directors as first vice president in 2007 and second vice president in 2006. He is also a past chair of the IAFC Program Planning Committee and President of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association. Chief Cochran is a member of the IAFC; the IAFC Southeastern Division; the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section; the Georgia Fire Chiefs Association and Metro Atlanta Fire Chiefs Association.

He authored two chapters — Chapter 1, “Leadership and Management,” and Chapter 25, “The Fire Chief of the Future,” for the Chief Fire Officers Desk Reference, published by Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

UPDATE: Mayor Reed issues a statement at about 4:30 p.m. on Monday:

I was surprised and disappointed to learn of this book on Friday. I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community. I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration.

We are conducting a thorough review of the facts surrounding the book and its distribution. In the interim, I have directed that the following steps be taken:

· Chief Cochran will be suspended for one month without pay;

· Chief Cochran will be required to complete sensitivity training;

· Chief Cochran will be prohibited from distributing the book on city property; and

· Deputy Chief Joel G. Baker will serve as Acting Fire Chief in Chief Cochran’s absence.

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 of her citizens – regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race and religious beliefs.”

Reed also posted the statement to his Facebook page.

UPDATE at 5:30 p.m.: Glen Paul Freedman, chair of Georgia Equality’s board of directors, issued a statement that he didn’t believe Reed’s actions were tough enough. Georgia Equality is the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization.

“The Mayor only gave him one month off without pay and then he will be back in charge of the AFD and giving orders to his entire department. His views towards the LGBT community are shameful. He will be back in charge and I am sure telling his staff anti-LGBT stuff. I wonder how many LGBT AFD staff were not promoted or held back because of his views and telling his staff his views. The Mayor should fire him!” Freedman said.

“The mayor is walking a very fine line here and only giving the chief one month without pay is not the answer in this situation and the LGBT community should demand more after the city of Atlanta just received 100 percent on the HRC [municipal] equality index,” he added.

57 Responses

  1. dcexplorer

    Clearly this man should leave the fire department and go to work at a Christian organization where his hatred would be better accepted.

    Reply
    • deg

      I do not agree with the sentiments expressed by Cochran’s book. But unless the book is a publication of the Fire Department or the City of Atlanta, they are covered by the first amendment and the right of free speech. As long as the book was produced on Cochran’s own time, and at his (or others’) expense (and not the city) there should be no question of silencing his voice. He appears to be stating a a religious point of view, separate from his official duties. Unless actions on Cochran’s part, against LGBTQ firefighters, other employees, or citizens are evident, this is not a matter for city involvement, especially disciplinary action.

      Reply
      • Samuel

        You are absolutely right. I agree with you. I do not go around and discriminate against homosexuals. But the man have a right just like the homosexuals to say what he feel. Soon they will take away the right from us to say anything. SMH

      • SES21

        It’s my understanding that he did attach his Title to the book, in which case that’s inappropriate. He is certainly entitled to his views, & to express them, but not under the guise of his position with the City of Atlanta.

        For those calling for harsher punishment, it’s reasonable that Reed’s office conducts its investigation first before reaching any conclusions. Once that’s done, it’s possible that there will be more repercussions – including termination.

      • Tom

        I wholeheartedly agree with this commenter. I think that the chief’s firing by Mayor Reed was highly inappropiate; in fact Mayor Reed lied a couple of times in his defense of the firing. It’s scary that people’s religious views as guaranteed in the 1st Amendment are not being protected any more.

    • Coffeetree

      Personally, I find it very hard to tolerate intolerant people, such Cochran; but if I am take pride in calling myself a tolerant person, how can I refuse to tolerate anyone, even an intolerant person?

      If I refuse to tolerate the intolerant, I myself become intolerant.

      Reply
    • Russ

      Is’nt it Hypocracy that homo- sexuals(biology adj/discription) are all about “inclusiveness” ……but the “real” agenda of close mindedness, and discrimination is alive & well……explains the rapid socio “MANDITORY” behavior of Sodom & Gommorah …..zero tolerance of “straight” “biologically heterosexual ” “Natural laws” of 1 man1 women…….and no the God of the bible & creator as listed in our constitution is not “discriminatory” against homos….”HE” condemns Hetersexual fornication as well (any sex outside of marriage)….

      Reply
  2. jean sartin

    Maybe you Nazis can really get going and round up all the books extant that you deem bad, and have a book-burning from time to time. Other good Germans–oh I mean citizens — can be encouraged to seek these out and turn them in. Those who criticize your efforts will be shunned. We all must think alike, you know. Sodomy is king! Today sodomites, tomorrow bestiality! Brave New World and Sig Heil Atlanta!

    Reply
    • Heather

      Any other bigoted talking points you want to throw out there? Tell us how you /really/ feel.

      Reply
  3. Bob Fox

    I support Chief Cochran on all points.

    I support and applaud him on his faith and beliefs of Christian Principles.

    I support the 1st Amendment – Freedom of Speech.

    To HELL with all the liberals, progressives and God-Haters.

    Democrats self-proclaimed themselves the Party of Death (abortion).

    Truth and American Common Sense will persevere sooner or later.

    Keep the Faith and God Bless.

    Reply
  4. LAD

    Much to do about nothing. Those who claim to be offended should appreciate his honesty, a rare quality in politics. Review Chief Cochran’s accomplishments and consider his performance for the last 30 years. He is an outstanding leader in the fire service. No one cited even one example where Chief Cochran mistreated anyone. He has an opinion and he has values. You may not share them but is that reason to discipline him. So much for tolerance. I respect him more for his honesty and as a man who truly cares for people… all people. I may not agree with all his values but he is an outstanding leader for the AFD.

    Reply
  5. TIm

    Someone with these views has no place being the Chief in a city with a large gay and lesbian population. The chief of a fire department sets the tone for those who work under him. Firefighters respond not only to fires, but are first responders to all emergencies. We depend on those under him to save and protect our property and lives. Can we gay and lesbian citizens expect the same respect and care from a department led by someone who defines us as impure and likens us to pedophiles? As the son of a retired firefighter, I know the departments are full of people with opinions towards gay and lesbians that may not be the most enlightened to say the least; however, they continue to do their best at a noble profession to care equally for all those they are called to assist. Having their chief publish such things only serves to undermine this dedication. I can only imagine how the gay and lesbian firefighters who work under him feel going to work today. If Chief Cochran does not resign, the mayor should terminate or at least demote him.

    As to first amendment rights. The Atlanta Fire Chief is a political position appointed by the Mayor. People in political office are to expect that what they say in any situation will reflect on their office. Also, there are rules of conduct and professionalism that extend outside their “day job”. My father was not allowed to purchase alcohol while wearing anything that had the fire department insignia on it as to not have any negative association to the department. Publishing a book goes beyond wearing a ball cap with AFD on it to the liquor store.

    Reply
    • Russ

      Hey Tim…..”someone with these views”……..this is America where Freedom of Conscience is protected…..your ideology/beliefs are also protected as well as his…..the Constitution is there to protect the “citizens” from liberty haters like you….America is the “nation” of Free thinkers & “Differences” encouraged & protected……like to put you “anti- free/speech” haters in an Islamic nation for a day ( your kindred spirits on oppression of free expression)….they’d murder you in an hour,for your opinion….think

      Reply
  6. Andrea Woodall

    Shame on Atlanta, GA….it is strange we have the Gays and Lesbians forced down or throats and when someone stand up for Biblical beliefs they are punished.
    I wish Kelvin the best and love his family. I was Secretary with the Shreveport Fire Department when a tall skinny and quiet guy was hired. For some reason I liked him. I use to go take his 2 oldest kids walking around the Academy grounds. Kelvin worked hard and made something of himself. I am very proud to have known him and Carolyn & the 3 kids.

    Reply
  7. A

    Oh my God. I can’t believe that you all are not only doing this, but are allowed to do this. This is horrendous. To go after people who do not believe with your lifestyle, opinions, etc.? It is horrible that you are bullying people into SILENCE!

    What you consider hate I consider love. What you consider love, I consider hate? Who’s right? Who’s wrong? What you consider anti-gay, I consider Christ-like. What you consider pro-gay, I consider anti-Christ? Who determines what is right and wrong, and how is it that all public offices are only to be held by pro-gay, agnostics?

    LGBT Bullies are what I call you. It’s sad that you are all terrorizing people to suppress their true feelings–exactly what you have been fighting against.

    And don’t get it twisted… The majority of the individuals that you target are African American. So although the LGBT loves to act like they are so tolerant, it is run by white men who love white men, and it is becoming increasingly evident that they hate blacks, heterosexuals, and women. SMMH… The oppressed becoming the oppressors.

    Reply
  8. sophia

    Homosexual attraction has its origins in predisposed characteristics, unmet childhood needs, and in the environment. It is a developmental disorder that leads to negative behaviors with negative consequences — adversely impacting individuals and society at large. The choice to act on same-sex attraction or to seek help to overcome these tendencies can be freely made by the individual. Homosexual behaviors can accurately be described as risky and should not be mainstreamed into society or equated with civil rights. Compassion for homosexuals should not include drastic social and legal measures to accommodate the demands of this small, but powerful minority. Bodies of government, courts of law, schools, and other organizations under pressure to accept the homosexual agenda will do well to remember that the demands and claims of homosexual activists are self-serving and result in no societal good. Social science research clearly demonstrates that the homosexual agenda does not promote the best interests of families or individuals!!

    Reply
    • Dyana Bagby

      When did you freely choose to be straight, Sophia? This argument has been discounted so many times by actual science.

      Reply
  9. enness

    “Bad vibes”? “Bad vibes” are considered sufficient evidence of wrongdoing or fatal character flaw? This has to be a joke. Or, perhaps the discomfort she felt was her conscience, if he is indeed the upright man he claims to be; in Christian circles that’s called a sign of contradiction.

    I am grateful that the snapshot of the single passage from the book includes the entire paragraph so everyone can see it in context. Am I to understand that Atlanta-area adulterers and fornicators were not offended, had no complaint? Even if you are mentioned briefly and as part of a broad class, you manage to zero in on how it’s all about you? Some people have way too much time on their hands to be offended about stuff.

    Reply
  10. “Religious freedom” bills: Anti-gay landmine or much ado about nothing? - LGBT Georgia | Gay Georgia | Gay Atlanta | LGBT Atlanta

    […] The employee handed Wan a paperback book. Pictured on the cover was an androgynous figure leaning against a large red question mark. The title was, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” Several inflammatory passages, including some comparing gay people to child molesters, were marked with Post-it notes. The employee said the books had been distributed to fire department employees by the author, then-Fire Chief Kelvin Co…. […]

    Reply
  11. Freedom Speech

    The UNITED STATES Constitution – First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Christian’s agree with God’s word about sexuality. Christian’s also support EVERYONE’S right to freedom of speech, including anyone who is gay.

    Likewise, every Christian’s right to freedom of speech is protected, as well.

    Discussing God’s word and agreeing with God does not imply hate for people. God’s word does not instruct any person to hate anyone. According to the Bible, God calls everyone to love one another. Love and sex are two distinctly different things. Believing God’s word about sexuality does not; in any way, allow for a lack of love for people, gay or otherwise.

    God’s word tells us we are all sinners, “ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” God does not say it is acceptable in any way to hate ANYONE based on their sin or for that matter, for ANY reason and it does not call anyone to hate.

    Discussion of one’s beliefs does not imply hate for people. Many Christians have gay friends, whom they love. Ask a gay person you know. Many gay people have Christian friends, whom they love. Ask a Christian you know. Not agreeing with everything another person believes, does not infer hatred for one another. If it did, we would all hate each other, no?

    Mr. Cochran has beliefs that he discusses with others. Like all Americans, his beliefs and discussions are protected. His beliefs as an individual do not imply hatred for people. Each of us have unique beliefs about many things but this does not automatically imply that our differences will create a hate for one another and certainly, it should not.

    We are very blessed to live in the greatest country in the world; largely, due to our constitution which protects every individual’s freedom of speech.

    Reply

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