Ex-Fire Chief Sues Atlanta Mayor: Fired ‘Solely’ for His Marriage Beliefs

Former Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran filed today a federal lawsuit against the city of Atlanta and its Mayor Kasim Reed alleging they terminated his employment because of his belief in traditional marriage.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, states Cochran’s was fired “solely” because:

…[Cochran] holds religious beliefs concerning same-sex marriage and homosexual conduct that are contrary to the mayor’s and the city’s views on these subjects, and because he expressed those beliefs in the non-work-related, religious book he self-published.

Cochran had been a firefighter since 1981 and was appointed Atlanta’s fire chief in 2008. In 2009, President Obama appointed him as U.S. Fire Administrator for the United States Fire Administration in Washington, D.C. In 2010, he returned to serve as Atlanta’s fire chief.

Cochran is a devout Christian and active in his community as a member of Elizabeth Baptist Church, where he serves as a deacon and teacher.

On Jan. 6, 2015, after writing and self-publishing a book which briefly mentions homosexuality as one among many sexual sins from a Christian perspective, the city of Atlanta and Mayor Reed suspended Cochran without pay, subjected him to “sensitivity training” and ultimately fired him….

By Kelsey Harkness – The Daily Signal –

Fire chief’s ouster beginning of the end for Christians?

The plight of Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran has caught America’s attention, but he is just the latest Christian to have his career vaporized by something that was said or written, according to religious liberty advocates.

But unlike the dozens of other Christians who have lost jobs or businesses because they dared to violate the sensitivities of the LGBT community, Cochran’s firing became a national story.

The fact that establishment media like the New York Times, ABC, NBC, CNN and others have reported the firing of Cochran is good, but it could also be bad.

The widespread coverage could signal that the media elites are sending a message to America that this is about to become standard procedure: Speak out of turn, even in your private life, in a way that offends the LGBT community, and you lose your job.

“It’s a chilling effect, said John Whitehead, president and founder of the Rutherford Institute, a legal defense and civil liberties organization. “Free speech in America, in my opinion, is basically dying. It’s being filtered by the national media and being scooped up and evaluated by the government.”

Cochran got caught in the filter, fired by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed because he wrote a book for Christian men that presented the case for traditional morals. Just one page in the book discussed homosexuality, describing it as one of many sexual sins. That was enough to get him fired, despite his many accolades both locally and nationally as a distinguished fire chief.

Travis Weber, director of the center for religious liberty at the Family Research Council, says Cochran has become the new face of Christian persecution in America. But the backlash against the mayor has been larger than he perhaps expected.

Hundreds rallied on Cochran’s behalf at the state Capitol last Monday in Atlanta and delivered petitions signed by 40,000 supporters….

Kevin Theriot, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which has taken up Cochran’s case, said such bizarre behavior by a big-city mayor cannot be allowed to stand or America will pay a heavy price in terms of lost freedom.

“Every American is guaranteed freedom of speech and the freedom to live according to our beliefs. Our elected officials are supposed to be the greatest protectors of those freedoms, not their greatest threat,” Theriot told WND. “Yet, some powerful politicians are sending a chilling message that should alarm every American. We have examples ranging from the Obama administration’s mandates forcing Americans to pay for abortion pills and elective abortions, to Houston’s mayor targeting pastors, to the city of Atlanta firing Chief Cochran for his religious beliefs.”

Conservative Christians as second-class citizens?

If this becomes the new normal, the effect will be to blackball an entire class of people, conservative Christians, making it impossible for them to hold government jobs and practice their faith, even outside of their place of employment.

That’s akin to a caste system, Theriot said.

“No politician has the right to pick and choose which Americans enjoy these freedoms, while punishing other citizens for nothing other than disagreeing with the government,” he said….

By Leo Hohmann – WND –