A group of Democratic lawmakers are actively pushing legislation that would essentially outlaw the name “Washington Redskins.”
How could lawmakers actually do this to the NFL franchise? They would outlaw any trademarks with the phrase “redskin.”
Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards, whose district includes the NFL football team’s field, has signed onto the effort. “I think it’s well time,” Edwards said Monday, according to local outlet WJLA. “I certainly understand where the Native American community is coming from.”
The bill Edwards is co-sponsoring is the “Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act of 2013.” The legislation amends the Trademark Act of 1946 by mandating that “trademarks containing the term `redskin’, or any derivation of the term, should not continue to enjoy the benefits of federal registration.”
“Recent psychological evidence has demonstrated the general negative effects associated with references in sports to Native American people,” the bill states.
The bill was introduced in March by Eni Faleomavaega, a delegate to the House of Representatives from America Samoa. About 20 lawmakers have co-sponsored the legislation. All are Democrats, except for Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma.
All this is taking place while D.C. budget battles have slimmed staff, leaving congressmen with only the “essential employees” needed to fulfill their roles.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has made clear he will not change the name. But the issue is back in the news again with President Barack Obama saying earlier this month: “I’ve got to say that if I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team – even if it had a storied history – that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”
Lanny Davis, an attorney for Washington Redskins, responded by citing an Annenberg Institute poll taken 2004 that said nine of 10 Native Americans are not bothered by the name. ”We at the Redskins respect everyone. But like devoted fans of the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Blackhawks (from President Obama’s home town ), we love our team and its name and, like those fans, we do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group,” he said.
“The name ‘Washington Redskins’ is 80 years old — it’s our history and legacy and tradition,” Davis added. “We Redskins fans sing ‘Hail to the Redskins’ every Sunday as a word of honor not disparagement.”