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The Daily Oklahoman

Cockfighting vote to grace Nov. 5 ballot
John Greiner

08/21/2002

Gov. Frank Keating has set a Nov. 5 election on a proposal to ban cockfighting, calling it a cruel sport and an embarrassment to the state.

"The initiative petition calling for a vote of the people on this matter has met a long series of court tests, and it is time for the people to decide," Keating said Tuesday.

He signed an executive order, officially placing the proposal on the general election ballot, and also endorsed the proposal, State Question 687.

"Cockfighting is cruel, it promotes illegal gambling and it is simply embarrassing to Oklahoma to be seen as one of only a tiny handful of locations outside of the third world where this activity is legal," Keating said. "I will vote yes for State Question 687, and I encourage all Oklahomans to do the same."

Cockfighting is legal in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana.

"This is wonderful. Hallelujah. What a good thing for Oklahoma," said Janet Halliburton, the leader of the Oklahoma Coalition Against Cockfighting.

Judy Hamilton, operator of the Texoma Game Club where cockfighting is held, said she was disappointed.

"I hate to see it go to the ballot because I feel like city slickers will wipe out a way of life that the rural folks are accustomed to," said Hamilton, whose game club is near Kingston.

She said this has been her livelihood for 14 years.

"I feel like our state Supreme Court justices did a very injustice, but it's not over. I'm sure we will take it on to federal court," she said.

Anthony Villalobos of Skiatook, treasurer of the Oklahoma Gamefowl Breeders Association, did not want to say much but did comment on Keating.

"All I hope is he uses the same judgment when they come after hunting, and his wife has to give up her deer rifle," he said.

Villalobos apparently was referring to the time first lady Cathy Keating shot a deer during a hunting trip in 1998.