Atlanta's Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran has been hit with a one-month unpaid suspension for comments about homosexuality in a religious-oriented book that he authored. The chief was also ordered into sensitivity training
Chief Cochran's book reportedly denounces promiscuous sex by males outside of marriage (whether with the opposite sex or same sex) and also refers to same-sex relationships as a form of sexual perversion.
The chief is apparently a devout Christian and a deacon of a local church. Cohran's 30-day suspension will cost him about $14,000 in pay, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
This his second stint as Atlanta's fire rescue department chief; in between he served as U.S. Fire Administrator in the Obama administration.
Cochran may have run into trouble by allegedly handing out copies of the book in the firehouse, but the suspension is evidently based upon publishing the book without the permission or knowledge of the city of Atlanta. City officials have also apparently opened a probe to determine if Cochran discriminated against any employee, or created what the law calls a hostile work environment.
One local LGBT group is demanding that Cochran be fired.
"In the book based on Christian
values, Cochran identifies himself as Atlanta's fire chief and says his first priority as chief is to run the department 'to cultivate its culture to the glory of God,'" WSB-TV reported. The city only learned about the book's existence after some employees complained about it earlier this month.
Published almost exactly one year ago, his 162-page book, called Who Told You That You Were Naked?, means nakedness in the biblical or spiritual sense according to the Amazon description. "From God's perspective nakedness meant so much more. It meant condemnation and deprivation to his most precious creation -- mankind."
The title language is found in Genesis 3:11, and the content of the book is said to be based on lesson plans originally prepared for men's bible study groups.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was one of several municipal officials critical of Cochran's tome. "I want to be clear that the material in Chief Cochran's book is not representative of my personal beliefs, and is inconsistent with the administration's work to make Atlanta a more welcoming city for all of her citizens -- regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race and religious beliefs," the mayor explained in a recent statement about the controversy.
Chief Cochran has been a firefighter since he joined the Shreveport, La., department in 1981.
The chief told WSB-TV that he is looking forward to explaining himself once his suspension ends.
[image via YouTube]