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Condoms In Porn Measure Qualifies For The Ballot

Condoms In Porn Measure

The Huffington Post   Posted: 12/27/11 05:27 PM ET

HIV/AIDS activists are one step closer to mandating condom use in adult films now that the Los Angeles City Clerk has officially verified the gathered signatures on a proposed ballot measure, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The measure, championed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, would require filmmakers to agree to use condoms on their sets in order to obtain a city permit for filming.

Suny Cho, a city clerk staffer, confirmed to the Huffington Post that the city notified petition organizers that the measure was received and the signatures verified with random sampling, which qualifies it for placement on a ballot. The measure gathered more than 70,000 signatures, almost twice the 41,000 signatures required.

From there, the petition must be presented to the Los Angeles City Council, which has twenty days to take action on the measure in one of three ways: immediately adopt the ordinance on all terms, schedule a special election or add the ballot measure to a previously scheduled election. The council has yet to be notified, as city staff are on furlough.

The measure is likely to be appended to the June 2012 elections, according to the LA Times.

Before the measure secures a place on the ballot, however, it faces a legal challenge by the city of Los Angeles. In early December, the City Attorney's office filed a lawsuit that would prevent the measure from ever making it on the ballot, claiming that the proposition would be a waste of taxpayer money and interfere with state-mandated health and safety codes already in place.

In an Associated Press article about the lawsuit, AIDS Healthcare Foundation president Michael Weinstein refuted the city's claim that the ballot measure would be a waste of money, as elections are already scheduled for June 2012. "I'm not an elections scholar," said Weinstein, "but I'm not aware of prior restraint on voter's ability to have their voices heard on an initiative."

The city's second claim, that the ballot measure would interfere with state laws already on the books, also seems to stand on shaky ground. In a phone interview with the Los Angeles Times on Monday, Ellen Widess, the head of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health authority, said "We believe the city can use its authority to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among people involved in the adult film industry" without interfering with Cal-OSHA.

In a Tuesday press conference about the qualified petition and the city's legal challenge to the measure, AIDS Healthcare Foundation president Michael Weinstein held forth about why he thinks the city is filing the lawsuit. From LA Weekly:

This has been a political hot potato that no politician has wanted to touch. No one is taking responsibility, so they keep trying to pass the hot potato. They consider these people disposable. There's an ick factor.

A call to the City Attorney's office was not immediately returned.

The Free Speech Coalition, a group of advocates in the porn industry, opposes the mandatory condoms measure and asserts that a crackdown on condoms could drive filmmakers underground or to other states. "History has shown us that regulating sexual behavior between consenting adults does not work," spokeswoman Diane Duke said to NPR. Instead, the Free Speech Coalition endorses what's already in place: scheduled, mandatory HIV and sexually transmitted infection check ups every few months.

The adult film industry shut down completely in the first week of September after an HIV-positive result was reported at a Florida testing facility. The test turned out to be a false positive, and filming resumed shortly.

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