We’ll know more next week, but for now, the bill before the California State Senate that would require condoms to be used on all gay and straight porn shoots, by law, was put “in suspense” by the Senate’s Appropriations Committee on Monday, meaning they’re not sure they have room in the budget to pay for implementing it if it passed.
The bill is estimated to directly cost the state between $125,000 and $150,000 to implement, however that does not take into account any potential lawsuits brought by the industry if it passes, or the potential for lost tax revenue and jobs if much of the industry decides to leave the state.
As we’ve discussed at length on The Sword, this bill has less to do with adult performer health and safety than it has to do with the gargantuan ego and misguided tactics of AIDS Healthcare Foundation president Michael Weinstein. Weinstein has repeatedly proven himself to be a sex-negative, slut-shaming asshole who already succeeded in driving porn out of Los Angeles County with Measure B, which passed in 2012 and which makes shooting porn without condoms illegal in that county.
Were this bill better thought out and crafted by members of the adult film industry, it might make for a better HIV and STD testing framework, provide some exceptions for sero-sorting in the gay porn world, and not set up an environment in which non-condom porn becomes criminalized something that will undoubtedly lead to shady producers putting more performers at risk, the law be damned. But as it is, it’s an impractical, idiotic solution to a problem that doesn’t exist at least by official, published records, no adult performer has been infected with HIV on set since 2004, at which point mandatory testing was already instituted across the industry.
In support of the bill, the AHF and bill sponsor Senator Isadore Hall (D, Los Angeles, pictured above left) trotted out former Kink performers Cameron Bay and Rod Daily (see the footage below) to speak about their experience one wonders if the AHF might even have them on the payroll at this point. It should be noted that neither were infected on set, at least as far as we know, and they were in an off-set relationship when they became infected.
On behalf of performers, very articulate porn star Lorelei Lee (at the 8:30 mark) got up before the committee to show off a petition, signed by over half of the 1200 known active adult performers in the state, opposing AB1576. “The author of this bill does not speak for performers,” she said. “No one cares more than we do about our health and safety… I want to emphasize that we would not work in this industry if we did not believe that our protocols kept us safe.”
She also made sure to tell the committee, “Performers who have tested positive in the last decade have done so after an [HIV] exposure in their private lives. And our mandatory test-and-stop protocols have prevented any on-set transmissions from occurring [in the last decade].”
The bill will likely be an unwieldy, if not impossible, one to implement, and it’s a definite setback for Hall and the AHF that the bill is now in suspense. Next week, on August 15, we’ll know for certain whether the bill moves on to a full Senate vote. Hopefully it will not.
Also, as well known industry advocate Michael Stabile says, “No one really wants a porn bill getting to the Senate floor in an election year, because no one wants to be on the record voting against condoms.”
See footage from Monday’s hearing below.