The committee held a hearing Monday attended by about 60 supporters of cockfighting, which has been illegal in Hawaii since 1884, and passed resolutions that supported the practice, but did not amount to legalization, KITV, Honolulu, reported Tuesday.
"I am sick and tired of them calling us a bunch of hoodlums when we are doing what we enjoy doing," Lloyd Marshall of Waianae said at the hearing.
The Hawaiian Humane Society, the Humane Society of the United States and other groups objected to the classification of cockfighting as a cultural activity.
"It is not a cultural activity at all. What you have is a small group of people who are involved in cockfighting trying to undermine the integrity of the Animal Cruelty Law," said Pamela Burns, director of the Hawaiian Humane Society.
Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states. In Hawaii, the practice is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and up to one year in jail.