An ordinance that would require adult film performers to use condoms in shoots permitted by the city of Los Angeles received preliminary approval today from the City Council, whose members said they wanted to avoid the more expensive option of placing the issue before voters on the June ballot.
Members of AIDS Healthcare Foundation submitted 70,889 signatures last month in an effort to get the issue qualified as a ballot initiative. The City Clerk determined enough signatures were valid and proposed the issue appear either in a special election or on the June 5 ballot. The first option would cost $5.5 million, while the June option would be $4.4 million.
A third option allowed the Los Angeles City Council to adopt the ordinance as is. In an 11-1 vote, council members did that, with Councilman Mitch Englander as the dissenting vote. A final vote is expected next week.
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.
“We can spend literally millions of dollars on an unnecessary election or we can do the right thing for free,” Councilman Paul Koretz said 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.”
An attorney for AIDS Healthcare Foundation testified that the proposed law is necessary to protect young performers who are exposed to sexually transmitted diseases as part of their work.
“Over the past three years, I’ve spoken with literally dozens of adult film performers, most of them very young, most of the women, girls actually, all of them terrified. They’re scared about the conditions they have to work under and they’re scared that if they speak out, they’ll never get work again,” said Brian Chase.
The proposed initiative hit a snag, however, last month when the City Attorney’s Office filed a complaint asking the Los Angeles Superior Court to determine the validity of the ordinance. The office had previously opined that only state regulators have the authority to require performers to wear condoms.
“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 they required use of condoms by employees on adult film sets,” according to a City Attorney report.
Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who is the first openly gay member of the Los Angeles City Council, told his colleagues that Friday will mark 16 years since his partner died of AIDS.
“He was a young, beautiful soul, and during the AIDS epidemic of the 80s and 90s, I lost hundreds of my dearest friends and I will never recover, frankly, personally from the loss of such beautiful people,” Rosendahl said.