Atlanta Fire Chief given one-month suspension over religious, anti-gay treatiseAround the Nation, Online Only, Top Highlights Friday, November 28th, 2014
Atlanta Fire Rescue Department Chief Kelvin Cochran has been suspended for one month without pay after some employees complained about a religious manifesto they were given by the fire chief, reports The Washington Post’s Abby Ohlheiser. The screed, entitled Who Told You That You Were Naked?, makes specific – and to some, deeply offensive – references to homosexuality and gay people stating, “Uncleanness — whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion.” In another section, Cochran [writes] that “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.”
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed took action against Cochran immediately. “I am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community,” Reed said in a statement. He added that in the future, Cochran will be prohibited from distributing the book on city property; he will also be required to undergo sensitivity training.
But for some groups, sensitivity training and bans on distributing books, religious or otherwise, isn’t enough. According to WABE, at least one local LGBT group has asked for Cochran’s permanent removal from the force. “Frankly the only course of action at this point and time is his immediate and permanent dismissal,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality. “It appears that his language is so extreme, so belittling of gay and transgender people that I don’t see how he could possibly lead a diverse workforce.
City spokeswoman Anne Torres disagrees. “Too soon,” was her response to calls for Cochran’s immediate dismissal. She added that she doesn’t know how many people were given his book or why.
Cochran first served as Atlanta’s fire chief in 2008. The next year, President Obama appointed him as the U.S. fire administrator for the United States Fire Administration. He returned to Atlanta, and his old job as the fire chief, in 2010.
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