Capitol Alert

Condoms-in-porn measure qualifies for next year’s California ballot

California voters could help decide the future of the state’s multibillion-dollar adult film industry next November, weighing in on a newly qualified ballot measure that would require porn actors to wear condoms.

The California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act qualified for the November 2016 ballot on Wednesday based on a random sampling of the nearly 557,000 voter signatures that proponents filed in September, avoiding a full signature count.

“We now look forward to the next steps, both in the Legislature and before voters in November 2016, if necessary ... in the process of making this initiative the law of the land,” Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the measure’s sponsor, said in a statement. If the Legislature acts, Weinstein can decide to withdraw his measure until June 30, 2016.

Weinstein and his allies say condoms would help reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among porn industry workers ill-protected by existing workplace safety rules. The initiative follows last year’s legislative defeat of Assembly Bill 1576, a similar condom-mandate measure.

But the measure’s opponents criticized it Wednesday as “extremely dangerous” and “unconscionable,” saying it would prompt a wave of lawsuits against adult-film performers while pushing a legal industry underground.

Diane Duke, CEO of the industry’s Free Speech Coalition, called the initiative unnecessary because porn actors already undergo regular testing for AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

“There has not been an on-set transmission of HIV in the regulated adult industry since 2004,” Duke said in a statement, slamming Weinstein as “more concerned with his personal moral crusade than the real-life concerns of adult performers.”

Several thousand full- and part-time people work in the porn industry, with most of the business centered in Los Angeles and nearby cities. Recorded, streamed or real-time broadcasts of porn generate anywhere from several hundred million dollars in economic activity annually up to a few billion dollars, according to the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst.

Los Angeles County and state regulations already have rules on the books that require adult-film actors to wear condoms. But the Los Angeles County measure, approved by voters in November 2012, is tied up in court, and it’s unclear when its provisions will be fully enforced.

Existing state regulations, meanwhile, require all employers to provide for a safe workplace, including adult-film producers. The safeguards “effectively require adult-film performers to use condoms or other protective equipment during intercourse,” according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Proponents of the safer-sex initiative, though, say the state’s workplace safety authorities haven’t done enough. The November 2016 measure would enshrine the safe-sex rules in California statute, requiring film production companies to be licensed and report to the state, under penalty of perjury, that actors used condoms in a film. Violators would face fines of at least $70,000.

The analyst’s office estimated that the initiative, if approved, would cause some adult-film companies and actors to leave the state, while others would stay in California and make unregulated movies in secret.

Because of one man’s well-funded moral crusade, we’re now talking about goggles and gloves for adult film, and porn stars being sued if they don’t use a condom.

Chanel Preston, an adult film star who leads the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee

Wednesday’s qualification came as the porn industry criticized a new round of Cal-OSHA regulations for the industry. Besides wearing condoms, performers would have to wear gloves, goggles, dental dams and other skin protections to prevent contact with bodily fluids. A final vote on the draft rules is expected early next year.

“Because of one man’s well-funded moral crusade, we’re now talking about goggles and gloves for adult film, and porn stars being sued if they don’t use a condom,” Chanel Preston, an adult-film star who leads the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee, said in a statement.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has bankrolled the initiative campaign. Through Sept. 30, almost all of the $1.47 million raised by the committee went to signature-gathering firms.

Four measures already are qualified for the November 2016 ballot.