Porn's Condom Law Goes Down
A proposal, dreaded by the porn industry, that would have mandated condom use for adult performers on-set throughout the state of California, was essentially defeated in the legislature today.
The bill by L.A. state Assemblyman Isadore Hall would have expanded L.A. County's own mandatory condom rules to reach across the Golden State.
The industry was dead against it and threatened to leave California if it was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown:
AB 1576 breezed through the Assembly and was cruising through the Senate when it hit a roadblock in the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this month.
The bill had put the committee's legislative slate over a budget limit and was thus tabled temporarily. However, today it was not "voted out" of the committee, essentially killing it, at least for this legislative session. The porn trade group known as the Free Speech Coalition said the bill was "permanently shelved."
The Free Speech Coalition was elated. FSC President Diane Duke issued this statement:
We’re grateful to the members of the Senate who saw this bill for what it was — a bald-faced attempt to exploit performers for political gain.
But the assault had an unintended consequences — it unified performers and producers in ways that we haven’t seen in decades. Out of this grows a stronger industry, one not intimidated by harassment campaigns like AB1576. But the battle is not actually over, for we must always work to make sure our productions are safe and legal, that our performers have a strong voice in their own sexual health, and to keep a thriving industry in California.
Porn people by Nate "Igor" Smith for L.A. Weekly
We reached out to Hall's people and to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which sponsored the bill, but had yet to hear back.
The industry has argued that consumers won't purchase condom porn and that mandating it will force the industry out of state and underground, where conditions for performers would be less safe.
The business has a voluntary, twice-a-month STD-testing protocol for performers, a system that producers say works.
The AHF says that condoms are already mandatory under federal labor rules that say employees should not be exposed to blood-borne pathogens at the workplace. The organization says it simply wanted the rule codified in California, one of the few states where porn production is explicitly legal.
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Last year an identical bill by Hall also failed to get through all of Sacramento's legislative hoops.
The [San Fernando] Valley Industry and Commerce Association was dead against the bills, saying they would cause billions of dollars worth of economic impact generated by the adult industry in L.A. to disappear.
[Added at 2:56 p.m.]: The office of Assemblyman Isadore Hall sent us this statement from the legislator:
In a year where the Legislature and I have focused heavily on protecting California’s film industry, it is unfortunate that some legislators don’t believe that protection should include keeping California actors safe while they are at work.
While I am disappointed with today’s outcome, one thing is and has always been clear on this issue: existing state and federal blood borne pathogen laws already require the use of a condom or barrier device when producing an adult film anywhere in California and the United States. AB 1576 wouldn’t have changed existing law, but it would have helped increase industry compliance in protecting its workers.
Here is the dirty little secret about porn production in California: it’s just work. Take away the racy titles and creative storylines found in many of these films and adult film actors become, well, just workers. My commitment to protect the health and safety of California workers has only been strengthened by my work on this issue. That commitment will continue through my legislative efforts in the years to come.
[Added at 4:40 p.m.]: The AIDS Healthcare Foundation says it will push to have a similar bill introduced next year. Here's a statement this afternoon from AHF President Michael Weinstein:
Regardless of whether AB 1576 became law this year, condom use already is—and has been—the law in California under existing Cal/OSHA authority. The porn industry has simply chosen to ignore these laws, with few, if any, repercussions to date for producers. As for AB 1576: We will reintroduce the bill next year and are proud of the fact that we moved this legislation farther along in this session than any previous year. By way of comparison, it took over a decade to get a needle exchange bill passed on a statewide level, so we are prepared for a long haul, if that’s what it takes.
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