Stiff Opposition to Condom Mandate in Porn

     
     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – The debate over whether to force California’s billion-dollar porn industry to use condoms that began in Los Angeles five years ago will be decided by voters statewide in November, despite stiff opposition from lawmakers and the state’s largest newspapers which claim its passage could result in an avalanche of pricey lawsuits.
     The recent friction regarding mandatory condom use in adult films stems from a local law passed by Los Angeles County voters in 2012. Measure B, which received nearly 57 percent of the vote, was inspired by two former performers that claim they contracted HIV while working. The measure was financed by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation and its activist founder Michael Weinstein.
     Supporters framed Measure B as a common-sense blueprint for stunting the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases and improving workplace safety.
     California and New Hampshire are the only states that currently allow the production of adult films.
     The industry’s most powerful production company and actors quickly countered with a federal lawsuit, claiming Measure B restrains freedom of speech and violates the First Amendment. The porn industry’s lawsuit ultimately failed after a three-judge Ninth Circuit panel upheld the contentious condom regulations.
     Now Weinstein wants to spread an enhanced version of Measure B statewide and regulate adult film sets in the Golden State via Proposition 60.
     Under Proposition 60, producers would have to pay for performers’ medical examinations, maintain records proving that condoms were used and face fines for violating mandatory condom laws. Upping the ante, however, private citizens would be allowed to sue porn producers for violating the mandatory condom use in California films as whistleblowers of sorts in cases where the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t respond to citizen complaints.
     The threat of litigation has drawn many state lawmakers and newspaper editorial boards against Weinstein’s statewide vision.
     “The measure could cause significant harm to adult film performers, subject them to vast array of unprecedented third-party lawsuits and erode critical protections,” former state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said in a statement opposing the initiative.
     Both the California Republican and Democratic parties have come out against Proposition 60.
     Meanwhile newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and the Sacramento Bee have also encouraged readers to ditch mandatory condom use at the ballot box.
     Many actors in the adult film industry have joined forces to fight Proposition 60, calling it an assault on their livelihood. Porn actor Rachel “Chanel Preston” Taylor has argued in court that the measure unfairly targets actors who often operate as both producers and actors.
     Taylor testified in Sacramento County Superior Court in August that an estimated 75 percent of the members in the “Adult Performer Advocacy Committee” produce their own content through webcam shows or by marketing segments of films they’ve performed in.
     “There are not enough jobs for performers to make money without producing,” Taylor testified. “Actors often use other avenues.”
     The committee acknowledged after Taylor testified that it didn’t have hard data to veryify her figures.
     She claims that if Proposition 60 passes, she could be classified as an adult film producer even while working from home and therefore liable for safety violations and potential civil lawsuits.
     On the other side of the debate are former actors and occupational safety groups hoping to bring stricter regulations to California’s porn industry. They point out that condoms have already been required in porn films shot in the state since 1992, but that the law is hardly if ever enforced.
     Former porn actor and Proposition 60 activist Derrick Burts, who says he contracted HIV from another performer in 2010, says the 1992 law needs “strong enforcement” in order to protect other porn actors.
     “They say Prop 60 isn’t needed. Well, I got HIV and thousands like me get serious diseases because of unprotected sex on porn films,” Burts proclaims in a pro-Proposition 60 advertisement.
     California performers say they are currently required to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases every 14 days in order to prove to producers they are clean. Many forgo using condoms during filming and opt for pre-exposure prophylaxis meant to prevent HIV transmission.
     The state’s legislative analyst predicts that Proposition 60 could cost more than $1 million annually to enforce. It may also dampen state and local tax revenues paid by porn companies if they choose to go underground or move out of state.
     Proposition 60 supporters have raised more than $4.5 million, with large donations from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The American Sexual Health Association and the California State Association of Occupational Health Nurses also endorse the measure.
     The opposition has raised just under $400,000 since Jan. 1, 2015.
     Eric Paul Leue, campaign manager for No on 60 – Californians Against Worker Harassment, says it’s telling that California’s top political parties and newspapers have united against the initiative.
     “Just about the only person supporting it is Michael Weinstein, the proponent and sole funder of the initiative, who has created a measure that would allow him to go after adult performers unimpeded, against the will of legislators or state health departments and funded with state resources,” Leue said in a statement. “This is a power grab which will disenfranchise and hurt adult workers in the pursuit of one man’s misguided moral crusade.”
     

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