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Porn Condom Ballot Initiative Could be Blocked if City of L.A. Has its Way: Suit Filed to Stop it From Reaching Voters

The city of L.A. is trying to keep condoms off porn stars, or at least off the ballot.

An initiative by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation proposes to put the matter of mandatory condoms in the adult video industry to you, the voter. It collected enough signatures (70,901 of them) and turned them in, but now the L.A. City Attorney's office is going to court to prevent the measure from being placed on the ballot.

In the this week's L.A. Superior Court filing, the office argues that ...

... the foundation doesn't have the right to put something on the ballot that would "preempt" the rarely enforced state law that already requires condoms.

The city also argues that the state legislature, via Cal-OSHA, has exclusive jurisdiction over the matter and that all such workplace enforcement should remain with them. The filing calls the initiative "illegal" and "unconstitutional" and says it would waste taxpayer money to put it on the June 2012 ballot.

"The city contends that the proposed measure is preempted by California Labor Code ...," the suit states.

With your support, the Adult Film Workplace Condom Initiative sought to require porn makers who get city filming permits to require condoms on-set.

The Free Speech Coalition, the adult industry's lobbying group, was psyched by the city's move. Executive director Diane Duke:

Clearly AHF has chosen to squander its donors resources by filing frivolous lawsuits and ballot initiatives instead of providing valuable resources toward the prevention and treatment of HIV. It is heartening to know that the City of Los Angeles will draw the line on AHF's political grandstanding when it comes to wasting taxpayer dollars.

See our cover story on the battle over condoms in porn here.

[Added]: The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been battling the industry over mandatory condoms for a few years now. It has sought to force the city, county and state to enforce the prophylactic law and has lobbied Cal-OHSA to create a rule specifically requiring them.

Cal-OSHA says federal law protecting American employees from exposure to blood-borne pathogens forces it to enforce condoms on-set. But enforcement has been hit-and-miss. AHF has been filing complaints when it has evidence of lack of condom use, and the state has levied fines in some of those cases.

But many videos are shot each day in L.A., and the state doesn't have the resources to be at every one.

The city has said that while it could enforce the rule it won't (interesting, given the argument it is now making that only the state has jurisdiction). "LAPD has the discretion to revoke the permit" in cases where workplace laws are broken on the set of a city permitted film shoot, the City Attorney's office wrote in a memo.

The L.A.-based industry argues that its once-a-month testing protocol for performers works and that consumers don't want condom porn. Adult leaders say that if condoms are required shoots will go out of state and underground, where exposure will be even more dangerous.

[Added, part 2]: The AHF got back to us late Friday and indicated they hadn't had time to read and review the suit and couldn't comment until they'd had that chance.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]