‘An Embarrassment’: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt Criticized For Supporting Cockfighting

(Photo by Hussein Faleh / AFP) (Photo by HUSSEIN FALEH/AFP via Getty Images)

Julianna Frieman Contributor
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Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt faced backlash after he voiced his support for cockfighting Sunday in video submitted for the annual meeting of the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission.

Animal rights activists and lawmakers lashed out at Stitt after the governor justified his stance by saying the sport helped his state’s economy, according to the New York Post.

“I wish I could be with you for the Game Fowl Commission’s annual legislative meeting, but I wanted to take a moment to cheer you on from the sidelines,” Stitt told attendees via pre-recorded video appearance.

Stitt said cockfighting came from Oklahoma’s “spirit of competition and camaraderie,” emphasizing his approval of the commission for “preserving” the sport, the outlet reported. Although cockfighting was made illegal in the state in 2002, Stitt stated it was a major economic force in Oklahoma.

“We need to protect the nearly 5,000 game fowl farmers across Oklahoma and lift up our rural and municipal economies,” Stitt said. “I can’t wait to see what we accomplished together in the next legislative session.”

The commission is set to lobby lawmakers to legalize cockfighting during the 2024 session, according to the outlet. Former Gov. Frank Keating was among Stitt’s critics. (RELATED: ‘You Are Not Alone’: Gov. Kevin Stitt Announces Pro-Life Resource Cite After Banning Abortion)

“It is an embarrassment to me that any elected official seeks to turn back the clock on this morally settled issue. Talk of decriminalizing cockfighting is toxic to the idea of economic development and forward progress for our great state,” Keating said.

Some cockfighting critics said the sport contributes to other crimes, such as drugs and gambling, the outlet reported. Others conveyed health concerns, claiming the sport helps spread the avian flu.