LA City Council Provisionally Approves Mandatory Condoms

LOS ANGELES—In a stunning 11-1 vote, the Los Angeles City Council today voted to approve the mandatory condom initiative proposed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation for placement on the Los Angeles City ballot in June. Today’s preliminary vote, which must be upheld by the Council, means the initiative will bypass the ballot and become law in 90 days if approved next week. The sole "no" vote was by Councilman Mitch Englander, who represents the areas of the San Fernando Valley that are home to a majority of adult entertainment companies.

The vote also is a defeat for City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who had filed a lawsuit against AHF in early December to stop the proposed ballot initiative, which ties the granting of Los Angeles film permits to the use of condoms by adult performers. Trutanich had argued that the state and the not the city is responsible for the health and safety of workers and that the initiative, if passed, would be met with a lawsuit that would cost the city money it cannot afford.

“We believe that the regulation proposed in the initiative is not valid because state law exclusively governs employee workplace safety in this area and expressly preempts local governments from adopting and enforcing regulations on the transmission of blood borne pathogens in the workplace such as the required use of condoms by employees on adult film sets,” Trutanich wrote at the time.

Recognizing that the ordinance may yet present legal problems for the city, reported, “A working group that includes representatives from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, City Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles Police Department and Personnel Department was instructed to amend the ordinance at a later date to ensure it is legally enforceable.”

That move apparently assuaged any remaining reservations the majority of Council members may have had.

“We can spend literally millions of dollars on an unnecessary election or we can do the right thing for free,” said Councilman Paul Koretz before the vote. “For better or worse, the city of Los Angeles is nationally known as the capital of the adult film industry. We should be nationally known, also, as the home of a safe adult film industry.”

Needless to say, many if not most adult studios would take exception to the implied characterization of the industry as currently unsafe, and it remains likely that a lawsuit targeting the constitutionality of the ordinance will yet be brought against the city.

AHF, which lobbied the City Council hard before the vote, was ready with a victory announcement.

“In an historic move,” it said, “during today's City Council meeting, the Los Angeles City Council adopted the proposed ordinance, 'City of Los Angeles Safer Sex In The Adult Film Industry Act,' a ballot initiative that has recently qualified to be placed on the June 5, 2012 election despite legal action by Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich to block the measure from appearing before City voters on the ballot. The ballot measure would condition the issuance of City film permits to adult film producers to condom use in the subsequent adult films shot and produced in Los Angeles.”

Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, provided the following comment in reaction to today's vote.

"Performer health and safety is a priority for the adult film industry, which is why the industry’s standards and self regulations have been successful as represented by the industry’s low rate of STI transmission and no transmission of HIV in the industry in more than 5 years," she said, adding, "Government regulation of filmmaking would likely undermine existing health and safety efforts and industry standards that are effective as well as take the government into dangerous new territory. This approach betrays our Constitution; it betrays the hard lessons we’ve learned in the 25-year fight against HIV/AIDS; and it betrays aggressive health and safety efforts in place that are proven and effective."

AVN has calls out to several studios, attorneys and other interested parties for their reaction to this breaking and developing story.