The firing of Atlanta fire chief is an intolerable precedent

By Denny Burk

No doubt by now you have read about the Fire Chief in Atlanta who was fired for his views on homosexuality. The New York Times

Mayor Kasim Reed announced Tuesday that he had fired the chief of the city’s Fire Rescue Department, Kelvin Cochran, after Mr. Cochran gave workers a religious book he wrote containing passages that condemn homosexuality…

Mr. Cochran, a firefighter for more than three decades, was chosen to lead the city’s department by Mr. Reed’s predecessor, Shirley Franklin, in 2008. He returned to the position in May 2010 after having served 10 months as fire administrator for the United States Fire Administration.

He is also a member of a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, which holds homosexuality to be sinful. Mr. Cochran’s book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” counts homosexual acts among a number of “vile, vulgar and inappropriate” activities that serve to “dishonor God,” according to excerpts obtained by the local gay news media and activists.

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Mr. Cochran held his own news conference Tuesday. He said that the city’s investigation found that he had not acted in a discriminatory way toward gay people, and said that he had asked for, and received, permission from the proper bureaucratic channels to write the book — an assertion Mr. Reed’s office disputes.

Nevertheless, Mayor Reed seems to view the mere expression of these views as discriminatory. He writes:

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.

Yet the Mayor offers no evidence of discrimination on Chief Cochran’s part—only that the chief holds these views and put them in a book…


The firing of Atlanta fire chief is an intolerable precedent | Denny Burk