Californians Reject Condoms in Porn Ballot Measure Proposition 60

Adult industry’s organized opposition pays off

Last Updated: November 10, 2016 @ 1:27 PM

California voters decided not to get the state involved in enforcing the use of condoms on porn shoots, rejecting Proposition 60, according to adult industry trade organization Free Speech Coalition. The ballot measure, which would have mandated the use of condoms on adult films shot in the state, currently trails 54 percent to 46 percent with 86 percent of the vote counted.

The proposition, introduced and backed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and its president, Michael Weinstein, would have required porn actors to wear condoms during scenes filmed in California. To help enforce it, the proposed law contained a provision in which any California citizen could sue if he observed a film shot without visible latex. That whistleblower would be entitled to a share of the damages if he prevailed in court — even if he did not suffer any harm.

Adult performers such as Chanel Preston, the president of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee, believe that provision would have only incentivized people looking for a reason to harass porn actors.

“This leaves us open to crazy anti-porn zealots,” she said in an interview earlier this year. “People trying to shut down the industry.”

The proposition received a yes vote in only four California counties, all in the southern part of the state. It holds a 3 percent lead in Los Angeles County, the state’s most populous — and home to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation — with 80 percent of the vote counted.

Proposition 60’s defeat was a big victory for Preston and others in the adult film industry who traveled to hearings and organized in opposition to the ballot measure.

“I feel powerful and strong,” adult performer Tasha Reign told TheWrap in an email. “Like my voice and the voices of my industry were actually heard. I have a newfound belief in myself and our marginalized group of sex workers.  Although we have so much more to accomplish and achieve, I’m proud to have been part of this campaign.”

While the AIDS Healthcare Foundation had a handful of ex-performers campaigning for Proposition 60, the overwhelming majority of the industry — as well as both political parties and the Los Angeles Times editorial board — came out against it, viewing it as a needless infringement that addressed a problem that didn’t really exist: adult film actors are constantly tested, and there hasn’t been a confirmed HIV transmission on a California porn set since Darren James returned from Brazil and infected three co-workers in 2004. And aside from that, several performers TheWrap has spoken with say that having highly physical, porn-style sex with condoms is really painful.

The Free Speech Coalition, the adult industry’s trade organization, started fighting back against the initiative earlier this year. They formed a political action committee – Californians Against Worker Harassment – and organized numerous protests. The industry also took advantage of the robust social media presence many adult performers have, with many changing their Twitter avatars to incorporate a “No on 60” logo, and spreading the word with a hashtag, #dontharassca.

A September USC Dornsife/ Los Angeles Times poll showed 55 percent of voters in favor of the law, but the industry’s relentless push seemed to pay off.

Proposition 60 was inspired by a Los Angeles County ballot initiative, Measure B, which passed in 2012 with 56 percent of the vote and required condoms to be used on all porn shoots taking place in Los Angeles County — the historic heartland of the adult industry.

But because neither porn watchers nor performers prefer condoms, as a result of the measure, adult filming relocated to more favorable jurisdictions like Nevada and Florida. In many cases, it even reverted to underground, unpermitted shoots, which present obvious hazards for performers.

Tuesday night, Californians decided not to repeat that policy statewide.

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