Atlanta Chief Fired For Distributing Anti-Gay Book Loses In Court
This week, the City of Atlanta had to recently battle a challenge in court of its termination of one of it's fire chiefs. Kelvin Cochran distributed a book saying men who engage in homosexual or extramarital sex are “un-Godly” and “wicked” sinners and their deaths would be celebrated. The book titled “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” was handed out at Cochran's workplace in 2014. Just some light reading for everyone at the Atlanta Fire Department.
Court documents state that at least one person found the book offensive and passed it up the ranks. The
propaganda literature finally made it to an Atlanta Council member's hands and attention. Cochran was fired in 2015 by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
So what was this most recent court case about? The two concerns were that should Cochran be fired for distributing the book and should he be penalized for not seeking out permission before writing
such filth said book. Cochran stated that the book was meant for Christian men, but the issue was it was "disseminated by a supervisor at the workplace — as opposed to completely off campus — and was even distributed unsolicited to at least three individuals,” stated U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May. “At least one such employee felt the subject matter of the book was sufficiently concerning such that he gave the book to the union president, and the union president then disseminated it more broadly to city officials.”
The book also put Cochran and the fire department in an untrustworthy light. What if a gay man's home was on fire. What if he was still in it. Would the fire chief practice what he preached in his book, let the house burn with the “un-Godly” and “wicked” sinner still inside and celebrate his death?
The court ruled that the firing of Cochran was justified because of his handing out the book at work to all. But the court did rule in favor of Cochran in the second issue addressed in the hearing. The city asserted that Cochran should have obtained prior authorization to write and sell the book. This would have been a freedom of speech infringement and therefore Cochran is allowed to construct what ever evils he desires.
So what were the outcomes? Cochran was fired correctly and with good reason and will not be reinstated as he wanted to be, but Atlanta cannot patrol external creations of its employees. Chalk one win up for morality and humanity. And one win for First Amendment rights. Cochran's defense team focused on the First Amendment win and not the court system saying his morality was disgusting and has no part in the Atlanta Fire Department.
Judge Leigh Martin May did offer the right for both parties to file new motions within 30 days to address any other concerns.