After a month of suspension, City of Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran has been fired by Mayor Kasim Reed. The termination comes just one day after Cochran returned to work from a month-long suspension for anti-gay sentiments expressed in a book.
Cochran self-published the religious-themed book in 2013 called “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” where he called homosexuality a “sexual perversion” and compared it to beastiality and pederasty.
Reed said he would not tolerate discrimination of any kind in his administration and described what he had read in Cochran’s book as “disturbing sentiments about the LGBT community.”
In an afternoon press conference, Reed said Cochran’s religious beliefs were not the issue, but that the text opened the city up for lawsuits. The mayor said Cochran had been advised by the city’s ethics advisor not to publish the book, but did so anyway.
Cochran has received support from religious organizations, including the Georgia Baptist Convention, who have accused Reed of suppressing Cochran’s first amendment rights. The mayor said he had received harassing and abusive phone calls (including one where he was labeled the “Antichrist”) at home demanding that the chief be reinstated.
Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan weighed in on the firing: “I support the administration’s decision to terminate Kelvin Cochran’s employment with the City of Atlanta. His actions made it a difficult work environment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender employees within the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department. This sends a strong message to employees about how much we value diversity and how we adhere to a non-discriminatory environment.”
Joel Baker has been named the city’s interim chief.
Our media affiliate CBS46 contributed to this report.