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Homophobic Fired Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Files Federal Discrimination Complaint

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Fired Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran officially filed a federal discrimination complaint contending that he faced religious discrimination after the city fired him for publishing a book with controversial, homophobic statements reports ajc.comChief Cochran mentioned that he was considering filing the complaint at a rally orchestrated by the Georgia Baptist Convention to reinstate him last week. The complaint filed on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by Cochran's attorney, Jonathan Crumly, alleges violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 by the City of Atlanta. Attorney Crumly, who is allied with group Alliance Defending Freedom that has rallied to Cochran's defense, issued a statement on behalf of Cochran.

Said Crumly:

"Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live without fear of losing their jobs because of their beliefs and thoughts. We are continuing to evaluate all available legal options to vindicate Chief Cochran after his unjust termination."

Atlanta city spokeswoman Anne Torres said the city did not know of the complaint, but it intends to fully defend mayor Kasim Reed's decision to fire Cochran. Reed affirmed in past statements that Cochran's firing was not a direct result of homophobic comments in the book, but because of Cochran's ability to manage the department and disregard for obeying the rules including not getting clearance to write the book.

Cochran, a deacon at Elizabeth Baptist Church, claims in his EEOC complaint that he did obtain permission from the city's ethics office to publish the book but was later told he also needed the mayor's permission and that he also violated "unspecified policies." Cochran says top city officials told him their investigation showed "zero" instances where he discriminated against anyone as chief.


New York Times Defends Firing Of Anti-gay Atlanta Fire Chief: VIDEO

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The New York Times has defended the decision of Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed (above) to fire Kelvin Cochran (below right), the anti-gay Atlanta fire chief who self-published a book he wrote titled Who Told You That You Were Naked?

In the book, Cochran labels homosexuality a "sexual perversion" and compares homosexuality to bestiality and pederasty.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c72fdc93970b-250wiThe newspaper argues that Reed “did the right thing and dismissed Mr. Cochran for what he called poor judgment: specifically, for failing to get approval for the book’s publication, for commenting publicly on his suspension after being told not to, and for exposing the city to possible discrimination lawsuits.”

“Mr. Cochran said he was fired ‘for no reason other than my Christian faith.’ But he and his sudden coterie of supporters have it backward. This case is not about free speech or religious freedom. It is, as Mr. Reed said at a news conference, about ‘making sure that we have an environment in government where everyone, no matter who they love, can come to work from 8 to 5:30 and do their job and then go home without fear of being discriminated against."

The Times argues that if Cochran “were an adherent of a religion that avowed the inferiority of white people, and that he distributed literature to that effect...he would not have lasted another day in a job that requires him to manage and protect the well-being of a large and diverse work force.”

“It should not matter that the investigation found no evidence that Mr. Cochran had mistreated gays or lesbians. His position as a high-level public servant makes his remarks especially problematic, and requires that he be held to a different standard.

“The First Amendment already protects religious freedom. Nobody can tell Mr. Cochran what he can or cannot believe. If he wants to work as a public official, however, he may not foist his religious views on other city employees who have the right to a boss who does not speak of them as second-class citizens.”

Watch a January 6th press conference in which Reed announces his decision, AFTER THE JUMP...

Update: NOM's Brian Brown isn't happy with the paper's position on the matter, writing:

But the biggest and most dangerous lie the New York Times put forward is that Christians (and those of other faiths) who actually have the temerity to speak up on their beliefs (you know, don’t hide their light under a bushel) on marriage and sexuality, should be fired.

Yes, the New York Times actually states that employees "have the right to a boss who does not speak of them as second class citizens." When the Times says that we are speaking of employees as second class citizens, it lies again—of course we don't believe that—we just know that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. And even though the Times acknowledged that there is absolutely no evidence that Mr. Cochran discriminated against gays or lesbians, it still argues that he should be fired because he had the temerity to publicly acknowledge his beliefs in this book.

The Times has just declared war on Christians and members of other faith communities that serve in government position. It is open season, according to the New York Times, to make sure that we lose our jobs. The new authoritarians now state openly that we can have our beliefs—we simply can’t talk about them. And then they are going to actually have the gall to say that "this is not about free speech or religious freedom."

Continue reading "New York Times Defends Firing Of Anti-gay Atlanta Fire Chief: VIDEO" »


Tony Perkins Equates Firing Of Anti-Gay Atlanta Fire Chief To Charlie Hebdo Attack: VIDEO

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(photo by Patrick Saunders)

Another conservative is coming to the defense of fired Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council comparing the chief's firing to the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris that left 12 dead reports On Top Magazine. Right-wing media, including Perkins and radio host Erick Erickson, have an odd fixation with capitalizing on the Charlie Hebdo tragedy and using it in comparison with former Chief Cochran's firing. Although Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has clarified that Cochran's firing was a result of the chief not following protocol, Perkins is saying Cochran's case is a matter of "free speech under attack."

Said Perkins:

"Make no mistake about it. Last week's violent assault was designed to intimidate and silence others who would dare exercise that fundamental human right of the freedom of speech, but whether a journalist in France satirically writing about religion or a fire chief in Atlanta, Georgia writing about the sacred teachings of his faith, the silencing of either is a threat to the freedoms of all."

The Georgia Baptist Convention organized and held a rally at the Georgia State Capitol on Tuesday to get Cochran reinstated. Around 200 people showed up to the rally including the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., Alveeda King, and Tony Perkins in support of Cochran and "religious liberty." King cited several Bible passages and bemoaned “this seemingly never-ending debate over sexuality,” while Dr. J. Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, held a Bible up in the air and called for a stronger stand on religious liberty. Cochran spoke last to his crowd of supporters.

Said Cochran:

"Indeed a strong statement has been made. All people groups are welcomed and embraced in the city of Atlanta, except the groups that believe the scripture regarding God’s purpose for sex."

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 6.16.30 PMCochran stated he's considering a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta, but he declined to answer questions about any legal groups he may have talked to. Mayor Reed fired Cochran on Jan. 6, announcing his decision at a City Hall press conference surrounded by his entire cabinet and local LGBT leaders. At the conference, Reed reiterated the city’s nondiscrimination policy that prohibits prejudice based upon sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as race, color, religion, and sex. Reed said Cochran was given the option of resigning but refused to do so resulting in his termination. However, Reed says the true reason behind Cochran's firing was his judgment and ability to manage the department, and not because of his book's virulent, religious anti-gay rhetoric in a statement on his Facebook page.

Said Reed:

"I believe [Cochran's] actions, decisions, and lack of judgment undermined his ability to effectively manage a large, diverse workforce. Every single City of Atlanta employee deserves the certainty that he or she is a valued member of the team and that fairness and respect guide our employment decisions.

"His actions and his statements during the investigation and his suspension eroded my confidence in his ability to serve as a member of my senior leadership team."

However, Republican politicians are still attempting to pass "Religious Freedom" bills in the state. R-Rep. Sam Teasley filed HB 29 on Dec. 30, which would amend Title 50 and "preserve religious freedom," and State Sen. Josh McKoon vowed to file a bill on the matter as well. Teasley and McKoon's proposed versions of the bill last year but both failed. 

You can watch Cochran's statement to supporters at the State Capitol building, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Tony Perkins Equates Firing Of Anti-Gay Atlanta Fire Chief To Charlie Hebdo Attack: VIDEO" »


Federal Judge Allows Case Challenging Georgia's Same-sex Marriage Ban to Move Forward

A federal judge in Georgia has denied the state's motion to dismiss a Lambda Legal lawsuit challening the state's ban on same-sex marriage, The Los Angeles Times reports:

Georgia1U.S. District Judge William S. Duffey Jr. said in an opinion issued late Thursday that the couples do not have a fundamental right to marry a person of the same sex, but he disagreed that Georgia’s “interests in child welfare and procreation are advanced by the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriages.” [...]

Duffey considered other types of marriages, previously forbidden, that were found to violate constitutional rights. Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law, prohibiting the marriage of whites to nonwhites, was struck down in 1967 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that “marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.” 

The same concept led to the invalidation of a Wisconsin statute, which required people to prove that they had complied with child support obligations and that the children were unlikely to become “public charges.” Similar reasoning also tossed a Missouri statute forbidding inmates from marrying.

But in those cases, Duffey ruled, the right to marry, period, was being challenged. In this case, he wrote, the plaintiffs are permitted to marry; they are only forbidden from marrying a person of the same sex. That, Duffey says, is not a violation of their rights.

Duffey's ruling means the Georgia case can proceed to trial, although the state can still appeal Duffey's decision. 

GA Voice adds:

“This shows the state’s position is doomed,” out constitutional scholar Anthony Kreis told the GA Voice. “It’s not a perfect victory but it’s what we needed.”

The lawsuit was filed by LGBT legal group Lambda Legal on behalf of four same-sex couples and a widow.

“We’re elated,” Beth Litrell, senior attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta, told the GA Voice. “The order is pretty dense but the result is excellent.”

“The ruling gives our plaintiffs and all same-sex couples the opportunity to be heard in court and ensures Georgia is on the right path of history sooner rather than later,” she added.


Police Search For Clues After Gay Man Is Mysteriously Beaten To Death In Northwest Georgia: VIDEO

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After a 2-mile walk, Paul Guerrant was just a few hundred yards from home on the evening of Dec. 22 — a cold, rainy night in Dalton, Georgia. 

Guerrant, 43, had been talking to a friend from out of state on his cell phone as he walked alone across the Northwest Georgia town, 90 miles north of Atlanta near Chattanooga, Tenn. 

At 9:28 p.m., the call ended, cell phone records indicate. Nine minutes later, a passerby called 911 to report Guerrant lying in the street unresponsive. Guerrant was rushed to a hospital, where he died from blunt force trauma to the head, having been struck multiple times with a hammer-like object.  

DaltonNow, police are offering a $10,000 reward as they search for clues about what happened during those nine minutes, in a case that has some telltale signs of an anti-gay hate crime. 

Project Q Atlanta reports: 

The severity of the attack indicates that Guerrant knew his killer, Dalton police spokesperson Bruce Frazier told Project Q Atlanta on Tuesday.

"When you see this kind of violence, typically the attacker and the victim know each other," Frazier says. "That level of violence can occur in a random encounter but it is much more likely that it is somebody that knew the victim and that there was a personal motivation behind it. We don't know that for sure, but that is the assumption you would make from this level of attack."

Frazier says detectives have ruled out any of Guerrant's known associates such as friends or ex-boyfriends as suspects in the homicide. But whether Guerrant's sexual orientation was a factor in his murder isn't clear, he says.

"Whether the victim being gay is motivation for the attack, we really don't know the answer to that. At this point, we have not identified a suspect or motive for the attack. It's possible but it's not something that we're ready to identify as the reason for the attack," Frazier says.

According to The Times Free Press of Chattanooga, Guerrant had struggled with alcoholism and homelessness, but had recently celebrated 17 years of sobriety and been baptized in a local church.

Guerrant's Facebook page shows signs of a recent relapse, as well as intense anger about an ex-boyfriend's plans to marry another man. But on the night of his murder, Gerrant was walking home from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. 

From The Times Free Press

Guerrant, 43, had grown up in Dalton but left some time after graduating high school in 1991, longtime family friend Sally Higgins said. She said he recently returned to Dalton but wasn't in contact with local family members.

"He was trying to get on the right path," Higgins said. "He'd made big strides over the past year." ... 

At Rock Bridge Community Church, Guerrant had grown involved in several small group ministries, the pastor said. And he served on a technology team to help with the church's productions. Turley remembers him always being full of joy and enthusiasm.

"We were excited about the journey he was taking with God," Turley said. "This has just been a terrible tragedy for us as a church. We're heartbroken. We would love to see justice. But we're also very grateful to have been a part of a process in his life to where now we know where he is. For that part we're relieved."

Anyone with information about Guerrant's murder is asked to contact Detective Brian Shirley at 706-278-9085, dial 9 and then enter extension 189.

Watch WRCB-TV's report on Guerrant's murder, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Police Search For Clues After Gay Man Is Mysteriously Beaten To Death In Northwest Georgia: VIDEO" »


Anti-Gay Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Is Fired By Mayor: VIDEO

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Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran (pictured below right) was fired today by the city's mayor, Kasim Reed (pictured above), on the day Cochran was scheduled to return to work after a 30 day suspension for making derogatory remarks about LGBT people in a self-published book he wrote titled, "Who Told You That You Were Naked?" In it, Cochran labels homosexuality a "sexual perversion" and compares homosexuality to bestiality and pederasty. GA Voice reports that Mayor Reed held a press conference today at City Hall to make the announcement. Reed gave Cochran the option to resign but terminated him after he refused to do so:

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb07b47080970d-800wi“His personal religious beliefs are not the issue at all despite the number of comments and emails I have been receiving on a daily basis,” Reed said at a packed press conference. “His judgment and ability to manage the department was the subject of this inquiry.” Reed named Deputy Chief Joel C. Baker as the interim fire chief.

Cochran published his book in violation of the city’s standard of conduct, Reed stressed, and he said every single employee in the fire department deserves to come to work in an environment where they feel safe in keeping with the city’s policy on nondiscrimination.

“His actions around the book, his statements during the investigation, eroded my confidence in conveying that message,” Reed said.

Reed added that he believed the city faced serious liability if Cochran remained on the payroll.

“If you work in an organization, you check in with person signs your check. And that didn’t happen here. And after that happened there was no contrition about it,” Reed said. Cochran spoke publicly about his suspension at religious events during his suspension, drawing the ire of the mayor.

Watch video of the press conference, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Anti-Gay Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Is Fired By Mayor: VIDEO" »


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