Atlanta's fire chief suspended for one month without pay for anti-gay remarks

Deputy fire chief will fill in for Kelvin Cochran during his absence


  • Jeff Baker/CL File
  • Atlanta Fire Rescue Chief Kelvin Cochran

Atlanta's fire chief is usually tasked with making sure that his firefighters are extinguishing blazing infernos all around the city. But now Kelvin Cochran has found himself in the middle of a firestorm.

Cochran today was hit with a one-month suspension without pay for making disparaging remarks about gay people in a religious book he published last year.

Cochran's 2013 book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?, contains several sections that condemn homosexuality, calling it the "opposite of clean" and comparing it to "bestiality" and "sexual perversion." Local LGBT website Project Q posted an except of one of the passages:

Sexual acts pursued for purposes other than procreation and marital pleasure in holy matrimony is the sex life of a naked man. When men are unrestrained in their quest for sex outside of God’s purpose they will never be fulfilled. Naked me refuse to give in, so they pursue sexual fulfillment through multiple partners, with the opposite sex, same sex and sex outside of marriage and many other vile, vulgar and inappropriate ways which define their body-temple and dishonor God. This is the kind of sex that leaves a man continually empty—the ex life of a naked man. Who told you that you were naked?

In a statement this afternoon, Reed said that he's "deeply disturbed" about the book and has ordered a review into its publication and distribution. In addition to suspending Cochran without pay, the mayor ordered his fire chief to complete sensitivity training and banned him from distributing the book on city property. Deputy AFR Chief Joel G. Baker will fill in for Cochran during his absence.

"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," Reed said.

Cochran's suspension came at an awkward time. Atlanta last week received its second consecutive perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's 2014 Municipal Equality Index, which measures laws and polices protecting LGBT rights for city employees across the nation. We've reached out to Georgia Equality for comment. If we hear back, we'll post an update.

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