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Atlanta and its former fire chief skip jury trial, await judge’s ruling in discrimination case

Two two sides disagree over the cause for his firing

ATLANTA, Ga. — Lawyers for the city of Atlanta as well as for former fire chief Kelvin Cochran have agreed to skip a jury trial and go straight to a federal judge’s ruling. 

The case revolves around a question of so-called “religious liberty,” a topic that has increasingly been in the news. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently released a memo stating that the Department of Justice will give extra weight to those who claim they are acting out of adherence to their faith. It’s a move many are calling the granting of a “license to discriminate.”

Cochran was fired nearly three years ago for distributing his religious, self-published book at work, titled, Who Told You That You Were Naked?

In it, he condemns gay people as sinful and cursed. 

While the former fire chief claims he was fired for his controversial religious beliefs, the city maintains that it was due to his response to the investigation following the distribution of his book. 

It included a Georgia Baptist Convention call to action, and, the city claims, is the real reason he was let go. 

“It was not about the religious beliefs. It was about trust. It was about his campaign to have people contact the mayor – things like that, afterwards,” said Robert Godfrey, who is serving as the city’s lead counsel.

The two sides argued in court for what is likely to be the last time on Friday. District Judge Leigh May is expected to issue a ruling sometime next month. She noted that some parts of the case could still end up going before a jury.

Posted by Jeff Taylor / Social Media Editor

Jeff Taylor is a journalist and artist. In addition to QNotes, his work has appeared in publications such The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Inside Lacrosse, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport and has lived in Charlotte since 2006.@jefftaylorhuman.