March 11, 2003
Cockfighting Ban Proposal Clears Hurdle
By Barry Massey
The Associated Press
SANTA FE A proposal to outlaw cockfighting in New Mexico continued to move ahead Tuesday in the House.
The measure cleared the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee on a 8-1 vote. That means the proposal has to get through one more committee before it reaches the full House for debate.
New Mexico and Louisiana are the only states where cockfighting is legal.
There's still a lot of work ahead for sponsors of the House measure, however.
A Senate committee has shelved a similar proposal to ban cockfighting.
"We are running out of time," said Rep. Robert White, R-Albuquerque, a sponsor of the House measure.
The Legislature adjourns March 22.
White and Rep. Ron Godbey, R-Cedar Crest, said it's important to get the bill through the House soon to leave enough time to have a chance at pushing it through the Senate.
Rep. Bengie Regensberg, D-Cleveland, defended cockfighting as part of the state's Hispanic culture.
"I think it's important for us to protect their culture," said Regensberg.
However, Godbey said there was illegal gambling on cockfighting and it was a bloody, inhumane activity.
He disagreed that cockfighting was a cultural issue.
"To refer to this activity as a sport is a misstatement," said Godbey. "It is a knife fight between two chickens."
He held up examples of the metal knifelike spurs attached to the legs of the birds during a fight.
Godbey said New Mexico should ban cockfighting rather than be one of the last states to permit it.
"Times change," said Godbey. "The Romans used to throw Christians to the lions and have gladiator fights."
There was no testimony from the public at Tuesday's committee meeting. Three House panels jointly heard from supporters and opponents of the legislation last week.