LOS ANGELES — The AIDS Healthcare Foundation on Friday announced it has collected enough signatures of registered California voters to qualify a statewide ballot initiative to enforce condom use on adult film sets throughout the state.
The announcement came as no surprise to the Free Speech Coalition, which has been working to counter AHF's mandatory condom campaign on behalf of the adult industry, noting that AHF has already spent more than $1 million on the initiative.
"So far, [AHF President Michael] Weinstein has failed three times to get California legislators to mandate barrier protection — including condoms, goggles and dental dams — on adult sets, where there hasn’t been a transmission of HIV in over ten years," the FSC said in a statement. "His previous attempts have been opposed by performers groups, the L.A. County Commission on HIV, the S.F. AIDS Foundation and the ACLU. The Los Angeles County Health Departments found the regulations so odious that they refused to enforce them.
"This is why his new ballot initiative includes a dangerous provision which installs Weinstein himself as the Act’s chief enforcer. Section 10 of the Initiative, titled 'Legal Defense' proposes that 'the proponent of this Act' — Weinstein — will take the Oath of Office and be deputized to go after adult performers and producers, and to use unlimited state funds to do so — effectively becoming California’s first 'Porn Czar.'"
AHF reported it has 371,486 signatures as of July 12, enough to qualify its condom measure for the 2016 California presidential election ballot. If it were to pass it would expand the authority of Cal/OSHA and local California public health departments to enforce condom use on adult film sets throughout the state.
To qualify the measure, 366,880 valid signatures of registered California voters are needed (5% of all votes cast for governor in the most recent statewide election, which was held in November 2014).
However, as a cushion, the advocates, who began collecting signatures in early April, will continue to collect signatures up until the Sept. 14 filing deadlines, with a goal of collecting a total of between 525,000 to 550,000 signatures, according to AHF. After the signatures are certified, the ballot measure will appear on the Nov. 8, 2016, California presidential election ballot.
The FSC further noted the exorbitant costs of the initiative.
It's statement continued, "The Attorney General’s office has estimated the initiative will cost California tens of millions of dollars. Weinstein has already raided the coffers of the nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation for over $1.1 million dollars for this campaign alone. By AHF’s own estimates, that money could have provided healthcare care for over 1,000 patients living with HIV this year alone."
Diane Duke, head of the Free Speech Coalition, was unequivocal in her opposition.
“The last thing California needs is a million-dollar porn czar to police adult performers. Weinstein has already wasted millions of dollars of nonprofit funds to harass adult performers," Duke said. "Money that should have gone to prevention campaigns in high risk communities has instead been spent attacking a highly regulated industry that hasn’t seen an on-set HIV transmission in over ten years. At a time when Weinstein is under investigation for defrauding the federal government of nearly $100 million dollars, he’s now is asking for a key to the state treasury. It’s Weinstein’s ultimate porn fantasy."
Peter Acworth, founder of Kink.com, agreed with Duke, telling XBIZ, "The ballot initiative is just a power grab for Weinstein, who's been frustrated that he can't get anyone in government to side with him. It's terrible from a public health perspective."
Steven Hirsch, co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment whose studio helped fund litigation against the enforcement of Measure B, told XBIZ, "Nobody is currently shooting in L.A. County. He therefore would be the porn czar of nothing."
LFP and Hustler founder Larry Flynt told XBIZ Friday, "It's important that the press exposes the people promoting the condom law. They're Jesus freaks with an agenda, and that agenda is to be the morality police. They have no concern for the actors, just for themselves."
Evil Angel founder John Stagliano also weighed in Friday, telling XBIZ, "As I have pointed out before whenever people get the chance to vote on other people's sexual behavior a majority usually delights in telling others what to do. I just hope the perverse motivation of AHF will be exposed and people will realize their rights are being taken away, as well as their neighbor's livelihoods."
"AHF has never shown facts that there is any epidemic among straight performers, so to burden the American people and pollute their day with such a useless conversation about condoms on a presidential ballot is offensive to everyday citizens and takes attention away from more entertaining subjects like protecting Americans from being shot, blown up or nuked.
The California statewide condom ballot measure is modeled on Measure B, a similar measure officially known as the "County of Los Angeles Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act," which passed with 57 percent of the vote in the November 2012 election in L.A. County.
“As of July 12th, we have collected enough signatures to qualify this statewide ballot measure regulating condom use and safer sex practices in California’s adult film industry; however in an abundance of caution we plan to continue to collect signatures right up until the September filing deadlines,” said Weinstein.
On May 21, dozens of adult performers and producers joined with infectious disease specialists and public health experts to voice opposition to proposed Cal/OSHA regulations at a hearing in San Diego. The regulations proposed — the use of condoms, dental dams and goggles while shooting adult movies — were the result of Weinstein's extensive AHF campaign in which he has called performers a threat to public health.
Among those who voiced opposition to the regs unless amended are the American Civil Liberties Union, the County of Los Angeles Commission on HIV, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Equality California, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC).
The industry’s own amended regulations include multiple options for STI prevention, including the industry’s current testing protocol, known as PASS, biomedical prevention methods like PrEP, and condoms for performers who prefer them.
Legislation that would have mandated condoms on porn sets was defeated in the state Senate in 2014. The industry’s amended regulations, data analysis and statements from public health officials can be found at OurBodiesOurChoice.com.