WASHINGTON, D.C. — JULY 28, 2017 — Today on News One Now, guest host Ray Baker interviewed Harper Jean Tobin, the policy director of the National Center for Transgender Equality about the Department of Justice having filed an unsolicited amicus brief on Wednesday stating that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not cover job discrimination based on sexual orientation. The brief was filed in the case of skydiving instructor Donald Zarda, who sued his former employer, claiming he was fired after he told a customer he was gay. Zarda died before the case went to trial, but his estate is continuing to fight on his behalf. Tobin says it’s another step in a campaign against the civil rights of numerous communities by this Justice Department.
“Contrary to what they say in the brief, it’s really contrary to a couple of decades of case law increasingly saying that sex discrimination has to include anti-LGBT discrimination. If I’m fired because my sex as a woman is the same sex as my partner, or because my sex as a transgender woman is not a sex that someone else thinks I am, how is that not sex discrimination?” said Tobin.
Tobin says that the DOJ’s decision to file the brief without being asked may be their way of asking for the courts to fight back.
“Congress probably should at some point codify the case law, but increasingly what the case law is saying, based on how the Supreme Court has said you’re supposed to interpret civil rights laws is that this is sex discrimination under existing law. That’s what the courts should say and that’s what the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have been saying – up until now. When you look at their attacks on transgender students, on transgender troops, on voting rights, on efforts to hold police departments accountable, this is a Justice Department that is really hell-bent on rolling back civil rights.”
Baker also spoke with filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry about “Hair Love,” a new animated short film that focuses on the relationship between black fathers and daughters. Cherry is raising funds on Kickstarter to finish his film, whose plot focuses on a black father having to step in and do his daughter’s hair for the first time, only to find out that her hair has a mind of its own.
“I think the biggest thing about being a filmmaker is being able to have empathy and relate to scenarios that you may not find yourself in but can still find the humanity in. I don’t have a daughter or any kids myself, but I have a lot of friends who are young fathers that are all, for the most part, involved in their kids’ lives, even if they’re not married to the mom. For me, I just think it was really important to shine a light on black fathers doing domestic things with their kids, because I think mainstream media would lead you to believe that fathers aren’t a part of their kids’ lives.”
The campaign has raised nearly $180,000, exceeding their original $75,000 goal. Cherry hopes his film helps to bring self-confidence to young women, and that it continues normalizing the fact that black fathers are involved in the lives of their children.
“I think that fathers doing their daughter’s hair is just a more normal thing that you’re seeing nowadays. We really want to show more representation in the animated film space. If a little girl sees this project and she gets more confidence by seeing [main character] Zuri and her natural kinky afro, I think that’ll be a huge thing. We’re just hoping that kids move forward with self-confidence in their natural hair…that no matter what you look like you have confidence in your appearance and being able to move forward and just have a lot of hair love for yourself.”