Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was fired by Mayor Kasim Reed today, the day Cochran was to return to work after a 30-day suspension without pay for going against city policy by writing a book that included comparing homosexuality to bestiality. Reed made the announcement this afternoon at a press conference at City Hall.

“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.”

A phone call to Cochran’s home was answered by a woman who said he was busy and to call back later.

At the press conference, Reed reiterated the city’s nondiscrimination policy that prohibits prejudice based upon sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as race, color, religion, and sex. Reed said Cochran was given the option of resigning but refused to do so resulting in his termination today.

Mayor Kasim Reed at a packed press conference at City Hall announcing Kelvin Cochran fired as city fire chief. (Photo by Patrick Saunders)

Mayor Kasim Reed at a packed press conference at City Hall announcing Kelvin Cochran fired as city fire chief. (Photo by Patrick Saunders)

“His personal religious beliefs are not the issue at all despite the number of comments and emails I have been receiving on a daily basis,” Reed said at a packed press conference. “His judgment and ability to manage the department was the subject of this inquiry.” Reed named Deputy Chief Joel C. Baker as the interim fire chief.

Interim Chief Joel Baker.

Interim Chief Joel Baker.

Cochran published his book in violation of the city’s standard of conduct, Reed stressed, and he said every single employee in the fire department deserves to come to work in an environment where they feel safe in keeping with the city’s policy on nondiscrimination.

“His actions around the book, his statements during the investigation, eroded my confidence in conveying that message,” Reed said.

Reed added that he believed the city faced serious liability if Cochran remained on the payroll.

“If you work in an organization, you check in with person signs your check. And that didn’t happen here. And after that happened there was no contrition about it,” Reed said. Cochran spoke publicly about his suspension at religious events during his suspension, drawing the ire of the mayor.

Mayor Reed's LGBT liaison Robin Shahar, left, and Georgia Equality Board Chair Glen Paul Freedman at the press conference. (Photo by Patrick Saunders)

Mayor Reed’s LGBT liaison Robin Shahar, left, and Georgia Equality Board Chair Glen Paul Freedman at the press conference. (Photo by Patrick Saunders)

“And let me speak from my heart for a minute. This is about judgment. I don’t think anyone who works in a business could make a decision [and write a book] and never talk to the leader of that organization, which is me. Not one time … did he ever think it appropriate to have conversation to me despite the position I and my administration have [on LGBT issues and nondiscrimination],” he added.

Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan, the only openly gay person on the council, agreed with the mayor’s decision and said he was pleased with the final result.

Cochran was suspended by Reed on Nov. 24 after media reports of Cochran’s self-published book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” included excerpted anti-gay passages that state:

• “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.”

The book not only preached anti-gay language, but also included anti-women and anti-Jewish material as well.

Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition and founder and head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, urged members and supporters to email and call the mayor to reverse the suspension and to tell him to stop “infringing on religious freedom.”

An Atlanta Firefighters Union released a statement praising Reed’s decision to fire Cochran.

“Atlanta Professional Firefighters Local 134 would like to commend Mayor Reed and his administration for their decision to terminate Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran. Local 134 supports LGBT rights and equality among all employees. Atlanta Professional Firefighters believe we should take this opportunity work with city council and the Reed administration to improve LGBT rights by adding an LGBT liaison for the fire department. We look forward to working with City Council and the Mayor, and hope to provide any assistance they need going forward,” the statement reads.

Other excerpts from the book include:

1. “The naked condition was evident in the religious leaders, the scribes and the Pharisees during Jesus’ ministry on earth. The religious leaders were absolutely convinced that their righteousness was based on the staunch law code and their ancestry in the bloodline of Abraham. Jesus Christ could not convince them otherwise. Many believers today are absolutely convinced of their salvation through the blood of Jesus, but that the law code is still essential to righteousness. The Word of God cannot convince them otherwise.
Jewish leaders had made up their mind that the message of righteousness by faith through grace was a message of heresy. They believed in God but they rejected His Salvation, His Son and His message. Many believers today have also made up their mind that the message of righteousness by faith through grace is heresy. They believe in God and His only begotten Son, but they reject His Salvation, His message of grace and righteousness by faith.” (page 31)

1. “Ever wondered what would have happened if Eve would have said ‘You need to talk to my husband.’ What if she would have said, “Do I know you? Who are you? Why would I listen to you? I don’t know you? I do know God. He created this garden, these trees, animals, and all these creeping things; he created my husband and formed me from my husband’s rib. He even created you! Why would I listen to you? You neeed to talk to my husband.’
‘Adam! Adam! Come over here right now. This snake can talk! He just called God a liar! He’s trying to convince us to eat from the one tree the God told us not to eat from lest we die. He told me “We shall surely not die!”
I believe these words coming from Eve would have empowered and emboldened Adam as the protector of Eve and the Garden. He would have responded with righteous indignation and killed the serpent on the spot- even cut off his head. The scriptural account could have possibly been ‘And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Adam and he cut off the serpent’s head and they lived happily ever after.’
Unfortunately that’s not what happened…” (page 47)

2. “After seven days of crying and nagging, Samson gave in and gave her the answer. His weakness for whining, nagging women would ultimately cost his destiny. He lost the bet because of her.” (page 116)

Public Servant:
1. “As a professional firefighter, from the time I began the recruit academy I was placed in uniforms provided by the city…[lists clothing/gear items]. After the initial issuance we are furnished a clothing allowance in order that everything we need to be properly attired could be sustained on an ongoing basis. The uniforms are paid for by taxpayers.” (page 57)

2. “Personal Life Application: God gave me my fire service land, field, career. He gave me the job of being a fire service leader, Fire Chief of Atlanta Fire Rescue. He also made me the head- United States Fire Administrator. My job description as a fire chief of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department is:

To cultivate its culture for the glory of God
To keep it focused on its mission of saving lives and property
To sustain its culture, its members and its capabilities both now and for future generations.” (page 76)

44 Responses

  1. Mark Henry

    So essentially they fired him for what he might do as a bigoted Fire Chief and not what he did do as a bigoted Fire Chief. This is starting to sound alot like the plot to Minority Report. As a gay man, I do not support this measure. Rewriting a verse out of the bible (which I don’t believe in) in his spare time is not an offense one should be terminated for. If his personal views affect his job then so be it; but I didn’t read anything that suggested that the Fire Chief’s personal views bled over into his professional career. It’s a bad call.

    • Taco John

      He is an employee of the mayor. Chief Cochran knew that Atlanta was a progressive city with a progressive view on LGBT issues, but he decided to publish a book that went against what his boss and administration stands for. It’d be like someone at Jenny Craig advocating for whole-milk ice cream consumption outside of work. It looks bad. However, in Atlanta’s case, it also made the work environment very hostile for LGBT members of the fire department. Knowing several lesbian and gay firefighters, they feared for retribution from their boss. They knew that if he wasn’t afraid to publish a book calling them unclean then there was no way they would be treated the same as everyone else.

    • c

      He thinks his primary responsibility AS FIRE CHIEF is to cultivate the department’s culture to the glory of God. I think that’s a pretty basic failure to understand his duties..

      • cj

        I concur with C’s statement above.

        In my 10plus years as a career firefighter, I’ve never once been taught that my job is to glorify anything. Life Safety, Incident Stabilization, and Property Conservation: that’s the job which I am paid to do by my neighborly taxpaying citizens.

        If he wanted to Glorify, perhaps he should have resigned in order to pastor a church.

      • david808

        you are taking his words completely out of context. Right after saying that he wanted to cultivate a culture that glorified God he said he wanted to keep the department focused on its mission of saving lives and property.

    • a.mcewen

      AND if you read other articles, you will see that he not only distributed the book to other employees, but he was also warned beforehand about publishing the book, but did it anyhow. It was a good call by the city.

      • david808

        misinformation. He cleared his comments with Atlanta’s Ethics Office.

    • Jaylin

      The mayor mentioned, “his actions surrounding the book, his statements during the investigation, eroded my confidence…”. It’s a bit presumptuous to judge this as a bad call after having only reading a few book excerpts in this article. (Also, “alot” is not a word.)

    • jeremy

      Read the article numb nuts. He was fired for his lack of ability to do his job. That he wrote such an inflammatory book that was sexist, homophobic and antisemitic probably didn’t help either. If you don’t think a bigots personal views affect his job and how he interacts with those he hates in his workplace or in public then you have been living life with your eyes closed.

      • david808

        1) he was not fired for his lack of ability to do his job. How do you think he became fire chief? that is a twisting of the truth. The Mayor considers him unable to do his job because of his religious beliefs which disapproves of homosexuality. Tell the truth!

        2) his book was not inflammatory. Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean they are being inciteful. Of course, you paint it this way because it helps to make him look wrong and bad, which he is NOT.

        3) His book was not sexist. He described how Delilah nagged Samson in to telling her the secret of his strength. A specific act by a specific woman.

        4) You also describe his book as homophobic. Wow. That is one of the favorite words of the Left, isn’t it? just like how they always say “anti-abortion” instead of “pro-life”. The word homophobic implies that people are afraid of homosexuals and that they should not be. That is missing and twisting the whole thing around backwards. The TRUTH is that homosexuality is a perversion and not some innocent thing that uncultured people should not be afraid of (the implied connotation of that word). Using words to justify your immorality is nonsense. But of course, a lot of unthinking people fall for it.

        5) You also describe his book as anti-semitic. In case you didn’t know it, Christians are pro-Israel. The fire chief is in no way being against Jewish people. He was talking about the Sadducees and Pharisees in Jesus’ day who wanted to kill him. Again, a specific group of Jews in a specific situation, NOT all Jews and NOT anti-semitic. Be fair!

        6) The ‘ole bigotry and hate accusation again…. you liberals love to use that against Christians and conservatives, don’t you? if I disagree with you, that means I hate you. How convenient. Just accuse me of hate and bigotry. Classify me as such and people will tend to believe you and favor you. Again, entirely untrue and deliberately unfair. Just because a person disagrees with homosexuality does not mean they hate someone. And YOU KNOW IT.

        This fire chief has every right to his religious beliefs. And he should not have been fired by the mayor. Holding traditional moral beliefs which the majority of Americans agree with in no way hinders his ability to do his job as fire chief. It is actually YOU who hate and falsely accuse, not the fire chief.

        May God open your eyes.

    • david808

      well said. This issue should not come up at work. What he says and does outside work is on his own time, and he should not be judged for being morally conservative. The mayor is wrong. Christians can disagree with gay people and still get along just fine with them in the workplace. This view of perceiving anyone who disagrees with homosexuality as a threat has got to stop.

  2. Jim Efird

    “every single employee in the fire department deserves to come to work in an environment where they feel safe in keeping with the city’s policy on nondiscrimination.” …. Except Christians. It’s OK to discriminate against Christians, right, Mr. Mayor? Christians now ride the back of the bus — that is, if they’re allowed to ride the bus.

    • Chris

      Sorry, being a Christianist isn’t some sort of “get out of having to follow the rules of your employer and be expected to use good judgement” card.
      He didn’t get fired for being a christian, he got fired for willfully breaking the rules of his department.

      • david808

        100% backwards, my friend, and it will be demonstrated in court.

    • Gregory Peterson

      So…your idea of the Golden Rule is: Keep them oppressed or they’ll do to us as we do to them?

  3. Harry Court

    The book contains, among other things, explanations of Mr. Cochran’s biblically-based beliefs about sexuality and marriage, which predictably brought the wrath of LGBT activists who want to intimidate and bully anyone who dares speak out against their radical agenda to redefine marriage!

    Mr. Cochran was simply exercising his First Amendment rights, publishing a book as a private individual and not making any claims as a representative of the city. His views—which, incidentally, are views shared by a majority of Georgians and a majority of people throughout the country and across the globe—have no bearing on whether he is fit to serve as the city’s Fire Chief. There is simply no justification for firing him on the basis of this book!

    But, of course, the radical gay agenda isn’t interested in the First Amendment, or in the values of tolerance and respect for a diversity of opinions. They simply want to silence any opposition and turn traditional values about marriage and family into the social and legal equivalent of hate speech and bigotry.

    • Dan

      Yet another moron who doesn’t understand the First Amendment. If he is fined or arrested for what he said, then his rights are being violated. The 1st Amendment does not mean you can say what you want, when you want, with impunity.

      Of course, it’s also clear you didn’t even read the article, since he wasn’t talking about gay marriage, which isn’t recognized in GA. He spoke about gays in general, leading his boss to question his ability to manage members of his department, some of whom are probably gay. Views comparing homosexuality to bestiality are actually in a small minority and not shared by a “majority of people throughout the country and across the globe”.

      • Robert Morgan

        You don’t really understand constitutional do you? Lol

    • david808

      that’s a great summary. Thank you. The gay mafiosos just can’t stand it that the majority of people continue to respectfully disagree with homosexuality. And they are especially angered by conservatives capable of getting along with gays in the workplace. They want to outlaw disagreement with homosexuality! But there are many gays who disagree with the Mayor’s actions, including some comments I read here on this blog. Thank God for reasonable gay people! 🙂


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