ATLANTA - The battle over a book written by Atlanta's former fire chief was back to court Friday.
Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran wrote the book on his own time and self-published it. In it, he characterized homosexuality as a perversion. The city suspended Cochran and then fired him. He said it was because of his Christian beliefs. Two years later Cochran's battle against the city continues.
He has not been the fire chief for more than two years, but Kelvin Cochran Friday asked a judge to reinstate him and also give him back pay claiming Mayor Kasim Reed wrongly fired him over his religious views.
It has been just over two years since a tiny self-published book titled ‘Who Told You Were Naked’ created a stir that bubbled beyond Atlanta and Georgia to the entire nation. The former Atlanta fire chief penned the writing written specifically, he said, for Christian men.
“Given my history and work throughout my career and with the city of Atlanta, I was shocked that writing a book and encouraging Christian men to be the husbands and fathers and men that God had called us to be, would jeopardize my 34-year career,” said Cochran.
“Basically it was not about the religious beliefs. It was about trust. It was about his campaign to have people contact the mayor and things like that afterward,” said Bob Godfrey, city of Atlanta attorney.
Among other principles in the writing is the emphatic statement marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Some saw that and other limited portions of the books as being anti-gay.
In court, Judge Leigh May heard arguments that the writings were distributed to 13 of his employees created or could create disruption. But attorneys for Cochran said the book's message is protected speech.
Tanya Ditti, who is not a lawyer, explained why it was important to her to give up her Friday before Thanksgiving to come downtown and stand alongside the chief.
“When the case first came open and was here at the last hearing, and stuck with -- because religious liberty is important. Is it our first amendment and it's the highest priority amendment. Listed first in the bill of rights. And if we cannot protect our religious freedom then what's next?” said Ditti.
Cochran's lawyers are asking for the judge to make the decision. She heard arguments from both sides and said that in a few weeks she will make a decision.