A lawsuit from Atlanta's former fire chief – fired over his anti-gay, misogynist and anti-Semitic book – will proceed after a federal judge refused on Wednesday to dismiss the case.
U.S. District Judge Leigh May dismissed portions of the lawsuit filed by Kelvin Cochran against the city, but ruled that his claims of religious discrimination are plausible enough to continue the case. So May refused the city's request to toss out the lawsuit.
Judge May granted most of Mr. Cochran’s motions, including his primary claims of unconstitutional retaliation; discrimination based on his viewpoint; and violation of his rights to freedom of religion, association and due process.
Judge May also favored the city by dismissing three of Mr. Cochran’s motions on 14th Amendment protections, and releasing Mr. Reed from three of the charges filed against him.
Mayor Kasim Reed fired Cochran on Jan. 6 over his book "Who Told You That You Were Naked" that includes anti-gay statements after an internal investigation showed that the fire chief violated city policies. Cochran embraced anti-gay supporters after his firing, played victim, complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that he was canned for "my deeply held religious convictions" and then sued the city, which called him a liar.
Lambda Legal has weighed in to support the firing and to call Cochran a misogynist for other statements in the book.
Kevin Theriot, Cochran’s attorney from the anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom, applauded May's ruling. Via Reuters:
“We look forward to proceeding with this case because of the injustice against Chief Cochran, one of the most accomplished fire chiefs in the nation, but also because the city’s actions place every city employee in jeopardy who may hold to a belief that city officials don’t like,” Kevin Theriot, Cochran’s attorney, said in a statement.
Reed has said the city will win in court.
"I have expressed that throughout the entire process. I certainly believe that I made the right call," Reed said. "And so I'm clearly willing to litigate that and you know, I'm not losing any sleep about it at all."