For more than two years, there has been a very public tug of war between a group that promotes safe sex and the adult film industry. AIDS Healthcare Foundation launched a ballot measure last year, asking voters to decide if all actors in porn made in Los Angeles County should wear condoms on set. The measure passed in November and now, AIDS Healthcare Foundation has launched a statewide initiative. But one of the biggest adult film companies in the world has filed a lawsuit, saying that the measure contradicts their First Amendment Rights to free speech and creativity. AIDS Healthcare Foundation calls the mandate a public health issue. The saga continues but I will say this: it has been interesting to cover. Top photo of Ron Jeremy is by Gene Blevins. Below are photographs where I’m at an anti-Measure B rally which included Nina Hartley and Amber Lynn, also by Gene Blevins. From one of my stories (Daily News, Nov. 2012):
A collective moan arose from the adult film industry the morning after Los Angeles County voters decided that porn actors should wear condoms during movie shoots.
The passage of Measure B by more than 55 percent of voters Tuesday was met with swift warnings by representatives of the industry, who said they would not only fight the law in court but also look into other cities and states where they could continue to make films without condoms.
“After being heavily outspent by a well-financed AIDS Healthcare Foundation which poured millions of dollars into passing Measure B, the adult film industry will not just stand by and let it destroy our business,” said Diane Duke, executive director for the Free Speech Coalition, the trade group representing the adult entertainment industry in a statement released Wednesday.
“While the misinformation and outright distortions made by AHF during this campaign may have deceived voters, we believe in the calm, serious deliberations of the legal system we will find that Measure B is in fact unconstitutional.”
In addition to the use of condoms, Measure B requires adult film studios to apply for public health permits and for the county Department of Public Health to lead inspections and enforcement efforts. Violators could face civil fines and criminal charges, and the Department of Public Health will be able to revoke the public health permits if it finds violations or a risk to public safety.
The law does not apply in the cities of Pasadena, Long Beach and Vernon because they have their own municipal health departments.
Advocates, primarily the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which spent more than $2 million to support the measure, said the new law promotes public health and the safety of actors.
“We were extremely gratified that not only did it pass, but it passed by a wide margin,” said AHF executive director Michael Weinstein. “The people saw it quite clearly as a health, safety and fairness issue.”
Weinstein said opponents have a right to fight the law in court, but he didn’t believe they had a case.
“This is not a First Amendment issue,” he said. “It’s a public health issue. We’re not telling them what to film but that certain precautions should to be taken. You don’t have a First Amendment right to spread diseases.”
Several questions remain about how the law will be enforced, and where.
The ordinance will take effect immediately in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. But it won’t be implemented in the 85 cities that contract with the county’s health department until those municipalities adopt the measure into their codes.
Los Angeles already has its own ordinance, but questions remain on how it would align itself with the county code.
“It is the law of the land, but this is a one-of-a-kind law for us that we have to look into in realistic ways because it is unique,” said David Sommers, spokesman for the county’s chief executive office.
Amber Lynn, an actress, model and businesswoman, said she began in the industry before it was legal in California. She said that, just like Democrats and Republicans, the adult film industry and AHF need to find a way to work together.
“I’ve been in the business for a long time and my feeling is this industry is going to survive,” Amber Lynn said Wednesday. “It’s legal to shoot porn here and we fought hard to make it a legal industry. The industry has come too far to turn back now. It’s definitely not over.”