L.A. County Supervisors Vote to Allow Porn-Condom Ballot Measure
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted today to green light the porn-condom initiative petition that would make rubbers mandatory at shoots within the county.
The vote, 3-1 in favor with one supervisor abstaining, approves the initiative petition, which could be placed on the ballot as early as November.
Diane Duke, Free Speech Coalition's executive director, was joined by adult industry attorneys Allan Gelbard and Jeffrey Douglas in urging the supervisors to vote against the initiative that, according to analysis, would cost the county $500,000 over two years to enforce.
"This law would cost the county hundreds of thousands of dollars; these are valuable resources that would be pulled away from other HIV funding," Duke said.
Duke emphasized that the adult entertainment industry is self-regulated and performers go through more STI screening than any other segment of the population in the county.
"I think it is important to note that our population is tested much more frequently than anyone else," she said. "There are people walking around the county that don't know they have HIV. You are not going to find it in our industry."
Gelbard called the proposed ordinance "unconstitutional, unwise and an attempt to fix a nonexistent problem." He said it would go against First Amendment issues and noted that the liability issue over claims relative to the ordinance would be expensive for the county.
"The county would be on the hook" if the ordinance is found unconstitutional, Gelbard said.
Supervisor Gloria Molina, the lone vote against the porn-condom ballot initiative, agreed that the liability issues over such a law, if passed, would extend payouts. Molina noted that the county paid out about $136 million last year in legal claims.
"I'm all in favor of the end goal, but what I'm concerned about is the sausage in between," Molina said. "What I'm concerned about is that the [ballot measure] is being presented to us as 'Let's stop the spread of AIDs'; we all believe that, and I think every voter would sign on to it.
"But when you look at that issue and break it down it is hard for me as a supervisor here who has a duty to place on the ballot because all of the signatures were collected. At the end of the day the liability is huge.
"All of a sudden we would be taking all of the workplace responsibilities of Cal/OSHA. Asking on the county to take care of their responsibilities is inappropriate. Why would our county take on the workplace issue when it is not our responsibility?" Molina asked. "It is Cal/OSHA's responsibility, not the county's."
Douglas, who also acts as the FSC board chair, also plead for Supervisors to vote against the proposed ballot measure, calling it "entirely impractical" for a number of reasons, including $3,000 filming permits that are "out of scope with the budgets of the material."
County officials say they have received 372,100 unverified signatures and verified a sample — three percent, or 11,163, of those signatures. Of those three percent, 8,588 of signatures were found sufficient for the petition. The measure needed 232,000 signatures to get on the ballot.
The initiative would require on-location adult film producers to pay a fee and obtain a permit from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Performers would be mandated to use condoms for acts of anal and vaginal sex.
County officials would have the authority to suspend or revoke the permit for violations, and could follow up with $1,000 civil fines or misdemeanor criminal charges.
The requirement would apply to shoots in unincorporated areas of the county and 85 of its 88 cities, including the city of Los Angeles. The county covers some 4,000 square miles and is home to over a quarter of all California residents, including the city of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, also known as Porn Valley.
Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky, Don Knabe and Mike Antonovich voted for the initiative to proceed to ballot; Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas abstained; and Molina voted against the ballot measure.