If there's anything we've learned from recent cases of Americans who have found themselves under fire because of what they believe about marriage, it's that it doesn't matter who you are. If you don't share the view that marriage is nothing more than a potentially temporary love contract between any two (for now) people, then you're at risk for being labeled a "homophobic bigot" in the court of public opinion and could face occupational consequences and financial penalties in the court of law.
No one knows this better than former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran. Here are three reasons why Chief Cochran's case drives this point home.
1. He is a former presidential appointee.
In 2009, President Obama appointed Kelvin to the highest office in the profession: U.S. Fire Administrator for the United States Fire Administration. In this role, he worked with federal agencies, including his parenting agency, the United States Department of Homeland Security, to prevent fires and improve fire response.
If someone had a "discrimination" problem, like Cochran opponents allege, it would have had an impact on his career long before he reached this point. The truth is, Kelvin Cochran never discriminated against anyone. He wrote a book about his beliefs and he was fired because people disagree with those beliefs.
2. The City of Atlanta asked Kelvin to return to his role as Atlanta Fire Chief.
As most of you know, Kelvin was fired from his position as Fire Chief of the City of Atlanta. But what you may not know is that Kelvin held this position before his presidential appointment. So why did he come back to Atlanta after holding the highest office in his profession? Well, the city asked him to.
That's right; the same city that would fire him five years later asked Kelvin Cochran to return to Atlanta and to his role as Atlanta Fire Chief. Oh, and he was even named Fire Chief of the Year in 2012—how's that for bad behavior?
3. Marriage is just the beginning.
It's easy to think that if people compromise on their deeply held beliefs about marriage to "keep the peace," then all will be well. But why would we think this type of government coercion and social pressure will only hold true when it comes to beliefs on marriage?
Last week, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards called for Congress to end the Hyde Amendment, which has been in place to prevent federal funds (our tax dollars) from being used to pay for abortions. Her message is simple: abortion on demand and on our dime.
For 39 years, the Hyde Amendment has meant unequal access to a constitutional right. It's time for Washington to #BeBoldEndHyde— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) September 30, 2015
While this movement is disturbing enough, it's likely only a matter of time before Planned Parenthood and abortion advocates try to force pro-life doctors, nurses, and other health care workers to participate in abortions. In fact, earlier this month the ACLU filed a lawsuit against a Catholic hospital chain alleging Catholic directives against destroying babies in the womb violate the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act and requesting that the court order the hospital chain to perform abortions in certain circumstances.
It’s a dangerous time in our country when a respected leader with 34 years of honorable service can lose his job merely for believing what Christians have always believed about marriage. The government preaches tolerance and diversity, but you can’t promote diversity while threatening and punishing those who don’t agree with you.
“Every American should be concerned about a government that thinks it can fire you because of what you believe,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “If it can happen to Chief Cochran, a distinguished firefighter who attained the highest fire service position in the United States, it can happen to anybody.”
It doesn't matter if you're a 70-year-old grandma; it doesn't matter if you've built a successful business off of your God-given artistic talents; and someday, it might not even matter if you’re a world-renowned doctor. This distinguished public servant saw over 30 years of service end because of his faith, and that's a big reason why Kelvin Cochran's case is so important.
Support Kelvin Cochran and ADF attorneys as they fight back against this unjust termination.
Tomorrow marks the first hearing and oral arguments in Kelvin Cochran's case against the City of Atlanta. Please be praying for everyone involved, especially ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot who will be arguing Kelvin's case, and please share this blog on social media and with your family and friends to help spread the word.
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