Mandatory Condoms To Be On The LA Ballot in June

PORN VALLEY—AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has announced that the ballot initiative created by its front group, "For Adult Industry Responsibility" ("FAIR"), has reached its goal of 64,000 signatures—roughly 29,000 more than required—and that means that in June, Angelenos will be voting on whether to require FilmLA, which issues shooting permits for all LA-based studios, can require adult producers to use condoms and other healthcare measures when filming adult movies before a permit is issued.

If passed by LA voters, the official title of the ordinance would be the "City of Los Angeles Safer Sex In The Adult Film Industry Act," and according to the LA City Clerk's office, the ordinance would "require any person or entity directly engaged in the creation of adult films who is issued a permit under the authority of the City of Los Angeles (City) for commercial filming of an adult film to maintain engineering and work practice controls, including the provision of and required use of condoms, sufficient to protect employees from exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials consistent with state law. The proposed ordinance also would require that any film permit issued under the authority of the City of Los Angeles (City) for commercial filming of an adult film be conditioned on the compliance with this requirement and include language regarding the obligation to comply with applicable workplace health and safety regulations."

Also, the ordinance would require FilmLA to raise the fee paid by adult companies seeking permits to a level " sufficient to pay for periodic inspections"—and considering how much adult filming goes on in the city on a daily basis, adult producers can be sure that the fee will be far higher than would be paid by a non-adult company in similar circumstances.

But according to attorneys familiar with both the adult industry and governmental affairs, such an ordinance, whether passed by voters or enacted by the City Council, would be unconstitutional.

"It seems to me that the authority of the permit department is simply an administrative function, and they're certainly not authorized to implement so-called health regulations," opined prominent First Amendment attorney Paul Cambria. "Usually a permit department, like zoning and all the rest of it, is an administrative task. In other words, it's got requirements A-B-C, and if you comply with A-B-C, you get your permit. But those requirements are germane to the function of that department, and the function of that department is to keep track of filming in Los Angeles and raise revenue from filming operations, but certainly has nothing to do with alleged health concerns or anything that would infringe on an adult's right to have sex with one another on film without a condom. So it seems to me it's outside of the legal authority of the permit department. And that's aside from the other First Amendment issues we have discussed, like the erotic message of the work and all the rest of it. It seems to me it's beyond the authority of the permit department, and you couldn't tack on that kind of a requirement to that department. That seems to me to be something that would be wholly and solely under the Department of Health. I mean, it would be like if, in order for the power company to supply electricity to a shoot, you had a regulation saying that in order to use that electricity, you had to have condoms. To me, it's the same thing; it's foreign to the function of that department."

"Whether by initiative or City Council action, if there were a law requiring FilmLA to require condom use as a condition, there would be legitimate constitutional challenges to such a law because of the First Amendment free expression issues," added attorney Jeffrey Douglas, a defense attorney well-versed in adult industry issues. "Also, one would have to closely examine the charter for FilmLA to see whether it is even within their jurisdictional mandate."

Moreover, it's questionable whether many of the petition's signers even knew what they were signing. One adult industry supporter was told, when asked to sign, that the objective of the petition was to force mainstream studios like Universal to adopt stricter health safeguards, and only mentioned the adult industry and condoms in passing, when in fact the industry is the main focus of the petition.

This reporter was solicited for his signature outside a Best Buy store in Chatsworth by a gatherer who said the petition was to "fight HIV." When questioned further, he claimed that there had been six HIV-positive cases in the adult industry in the past year—a claim for which there is no evidence whatsoever.

(Readers who have had similar experiences or contacts with signature gatherers are urged to report their conversations to this reporter at [email protected].)

AIDS Healthcare held a press conference earlier this morning on the steps of the Van Nuys City Hall to announce having attained the requisite number of signatures on their petitions. Check back with for a report on AHF's teleconference to be held later this morning.