Call this a case of really strange bedfellows: A couple of LGBT groups are jumping onto the mattress with the porn industry trade group called the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) in the latter's fight against mandatory condom use for performers.
Why is that strange?
Well, this whole put-a-hat-on-it movement in adult video comes from one of the largest and most powerful groups ever to grow out of the gay community, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF):
You can probably imagine the AHF's concerns: The organization has long argued that porn stars could be taking deadly risks by performing without prophylactics. The group has been the driving force behind L.A. city and county laws that mandate condom use in porn.
AHF points out that federal law already says workers should not be exposed to blood-borne pathogens. The group argues that it's just up to local lawmakers to recognize that adult video labor qualifies specifically for this protection.
The AHF is backing a bill by local state Assemblyman Isadore Hall that would take that requirement statewide.
The industry says consumers don't want to see condom porn and that its twice-a-month testing of performers works. It has also argued that requiring condoms preemptively violates the free speech rights of filmmakers by making them produce content that looks a certain way.
Last night the FSC touted supporting statements from a couple of major LGBT political groups. The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, which bills itself as the “home of San Francisco's queer progressive left,” had this to say about the proposed law:
We are disappointed that proponents of this bill have worked to actively silence the viewpoints of sex workers from this process. If this legislation were truly aimed at creating a safer work environment workers would have been brought to the table to discuss their safety needs and make suggestions about how to best address them.
The Transgender Law Center has also weighed in against mandatory condoms in porn:
Transgender communities remain some of the most impacted by HIV and face remarkably high rates of discrimination in education and employment. While Transgender Law Center appreciates the intentions behind AB 1576, we are concerned that harsh penalties will drive big production studios out of California and small studios underground. This would result in lost economic opportunities for many in the adult film industry, both in front of and behind the cameras, inadvertently causing more harms to performers that this bill intended to protect.
Are you scratching your head? Us too.