Probe into fire chief’s anti-gay book nearly done

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An internal investigation into the anti-gay ramblings of Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran and his book is nearly complete and will then head to the city attorney for review.

Cochran is serving a month-long suspension for the 162-page paperback, “Who Told You That You Were Naked.” In it, he calls homosexuality “the opposite of clean,” compares it to bestiality and sexual perversion, and says it dishonors God. When the book became public last month, Mayor Kasim Reed suspended Cochran, ordered him to attend sensitivity training and opened an investigation into the “facts surrounding the book” and its distribution. Reed also rebuked Cochran in a public statement.

Cochran returns to work on Jan. 6 and will likely complete the sensitivity training – along with all fire department commanders and senior Reed administration officials – before then, according to Anne Torres, the mayor's communications director.

The internal review is “90 percent complete” and will be delivered to City Attorney Cathy Hampton, who will review the findings and make recommendations to Reed on what, if any, actions to take next, Torres told Project Q Atlanta on Friday.

The investigation could be complete as early as next week, she said.

Cochran's suspension continues to attract the attention of anti-gay religious activists. WSB radio host Erick Erickson complained that the “gay mafia” was bullying the fire chief. And Tony Perkins, president of the hate group Family Research Council, whined that the suspension is persecuting “Christian faith.”

Obviously, Mayor Reed’s message is that city employees have to check their beliefs — and specifically, their religious beliefs — at the door of public service. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this persecution will lead: to a country where no evidence of biblical morality will be tolerated. Christians who want to serve in a public capacity will have to go underground spiritually — or steer clear of those careers altogether. The fallout would be disastrous.

Yet Erickson and Perkins, along with other conservative critics, continue to mischaracterize the city's response to Cochran, saying he was punished for expressing his religious beliefs in his anti-gay remarks. Torres said in email statement that Cochran ran afoul of city policies.

“The City of Atlanta employs a diverse workforce. The Reed Administration expects all city commissioners and managers to respect every employee’s personal religious beliefs and sexual orientation. By identifying himself as the Atlanta Fire and Rescue Chief in his book, Chief Cochran disregarded the city’s anti-discrimination policies. He also failed to notify the Mayor of the book before it was published. City policy requires employees to notify their supervisor if they are publishing a book identifying themselves as City of Atlanta employees.”

[h/t Holly Bullies & Headless Monsters]


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