The City of Atlanta and its mayor will defend the firing of its Christian fire chief in court.
OneNewsNow reported the breaking news Wednesday that Alliance Defending Freedom and Kelvin Cochran have filed a federal suit against the city and its mayor, Kasim Reed.
ADF and Cochran held a press conference Wednesday to announce the lawsuit, which comes after ADF filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission on behalf of the fired fire chief.
At the press conference, ADF senior counsel David Cortman said the City of Atlanta "is not above the Constitution and federal law. In America, a religious or ideological test cannot be used to fire a public servant."
ADF attorney Jeremy Tedesco tells OneNewsNow that Mayor Reed, when he fired Cochran, stated that he "profoundly disagreed with and was deeply disturbed by" what Chief Cochran wrote in his self-published book, which included homosexuality among a list of sexual immorality.
Cochran's religious beliefs conflicted with the city's beliefs and Mayor Reed's beliefs, and that was the reason given for the original suspension, the attorney alleges.
"Now, sure the city has come out and said a lot of different things since then," says Tedesco. "Those are what we call 'pretexts' in the law. Pretexts are things that you say to try to cover up the wrong things that you did, and that's what the city's doing here."
The ADF attorney may be referring to Reed's claim that Cochran failed to get permission from city government to publish the book, though Cochran has said he asked for and got permission from a city office.
When Cochran was suspended last November, a spokesman for the city told The Washington Post that Reed "does not tolerate discrimination of any kind."
While the city's fire department was led by Cochran, city government also has an office dedicated to homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered. The office employs an LGBT "advisor" to Mayor Reed.
In a press release, ADF is claiming that the city investigated Cochran's behavior during his suspension and found that the fire chief had not discriminated against anyone in city government.
"The mayor fired him anyway, citing as his basis, ironically, the need to tolerate diverse views," the press release states.
"All Americans are guaranteed the freedom of actually believing and thinking in such a way that does not cost them the consequences that I've experienced in this termination," Cochran said of his firing.
The fired fire chief wants his job back and fair compensation for his firing.
Cochran attends Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta, where he serves as a deacon and teacher, according to media reports.