Thomas Elias: Condoms-in-porn a lock for 2016 ballot | TheUnion.com
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Thomas Elias: Condoms-in-porn a lock for 2016 ballot

The ballot initiative carnival predicted when it became clear how few valid voter signatures would be needed to qualify measures for next year’s November ballot is now officially underway.

Backers of parental notification before teenage abortions now appear set to qualify their measure for the third time since 2000. A referendum to overturn the recently-approved statewide ban on plastic grocery bags has already made the ballot. Others collecting signatures include a measure providing $9 billion in school bonds, a referendum to reverse the new law requiring virtually all school children to get vaccinations, and another substituting one big state-owned utility for the likes of Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric.

At the attorney general’s office awaiting official titles are measures converting future California governors into presidents of the semi-independent republic of California and declaring the state’s Bear Flag equal to the Stars and Stripes.



Four tentative measures would legalize marijuana and one would vastly increase tobacco taxes while trying to cut down on smoking.

…the arguments that such a law would mean big financial losses for California have largely been removed by the reaction to the first movie-related AIDS case in Las Vegas…

Some of these ideas are mere gleams in the eyes of sponsors willing to invest $200 to getting their propositions named and then hoping someone will invest enough money in them to gather 365,880 signatures, almost 140,000 less than were required to reach the ballot two years ago. The huge reduction in what’s needed to qualify a proposition stems from last year’s extremely low voter turnouts.




In this morass of measures, one idea that’s already been tested both at the ballot box and in real life stands out: requiring condom use in all adult films shot anywhere in California. As of early spring, this measure already had one-fourth of the signatures needed, with four months left to get more.

The idea is to stop the spread of AIDS among adult film workers who then might transmit it to others.

This tactic was first approved by Los Angeles County voters three years ago, passing by a 57-43 percent margin as the local Measure B. The pornography industry responded by moving most production out of its longtime center in the San Fernando Valley portion of Los Angeles. Some filming went to neighboring Ventura and Riverside counties, but the biggest emigration was to Las Vegas, where the industry was embraced by much of the community, including the mayor, who issued a formal welcome statement.

This led pornography producers yearning to move back to their old Los Angeles digs to claim the local condoms-in-porn law had not accomplished much of anything, other than to shuffle risks around, and that the same would happen if California passed a similar statewide law. Many state legislators bought into this claim, so moves for a state condom requirement went nowhere.

But then, only months after large-scale porn video production began in Las Vegas, a single AIDS case changed things considerably, mostly because of the careful regulation Nevada gives prostitution in counties where it’s legal.

Legal prostitutes get regular blood tests and health exams, with male customers required to use condoms for any interpersonal contact. Nothing like that has ever applied to most adult film actors.

When the infection last fall quickly caused Nevada officials to begin drafting similar regulations for porn movie shoots, questions quickly arose about where else adult movie producers might move. It became apparent they can’t go far, with adult filming illegal in the blue-nosed likes of Louisiana, Georgia, New York and 45 other states.

All this means the likelihood is that a statewide California law requiring condoms in porn has a better chance of succeeding than it did a few years ago. Sure, some producers would go underground and film “bareback” without permits or compliance with the condom mandate, as they still do in Los Angeles.

But the arguments that such a law would mean big financial losses for California have largely been removed by the reaction to the first movie-related AIDS case in Las Vegas, which means this initiative – unlike many now proposed – is not only likely to make the ballot, but stands a good chance of passage and eventual enforcement success.

Thomas Elias email is tdelias@aol.com. For more columns, visit californiafocus.net.


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