Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Panic Rolls On: AB 332 Clears Another California Assembly Committee

Seems like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has mastered the art of legislative wheel greasing. Two committees down, and their statewide condom mandate bill, AB 332, is thus far cruising.

The latest yesterday, from

The state Legislature's Labor and Employment committee approved Assembly Bill 332 this afternoon at a hearing at the state Capitol.
After more than a half an hour of testimony, the bill went on to a vote where it stalled and was put "on call" because there weren't enough votes cast.  By 5 p.m. today, the committee had all the votes needed to move the piece of legislation forward. It moved on with a 5-0 vote.

[The official vote was 5-1, with 1 abstension.]

The bill will now move to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration. With approval, AB 322 then would be voted on by the full Assembly. Pending approval by the full Assembly, the bill will be referred to the Senate and go through a similar policy and fiscal review process. If passed, AB 332 would be effective Jan. 1, 2015.
The Labor and Employment committee is comprised of Assembly members  Roger Hernandez, Mike Morrell, Jimmy Gomez, Chris Holden, Luis Alejo and Ed Chau.
Alejo and Chau were not present at the initial hearing, but voted for the bill before the meeting adjourned. 
AB 332 essentially mimics Measure B, which requires condom use for porn shoots in Los Angeles County; but differs crucially by making it a statewide mandate.

There was a gaggle of porn performers at the committee hearing to make their cases.  Two former performers, Hayden Winters and Jesse Rogers, did testify in favor of AB 332, invoking their experiences with STI's; but the overwhelming majority of performers who attended came out strongly in opposition to the bill as a violation of their civil liberties and a destruction of the industry testing system that had been in place for the past 20 years. 

One of the most powerful testimonials against the bill, though, came from former performer Lydia Lee (fka Julie Meadows), who has become one of the principal and most eloquent advocates in opposition to the condom mandate. Here's a special bit of snippage from her statement to the committee:
“Frankly one of the most frustrating things about this bill is that everyone wants to speak for women in the adult film industry,” Lee said. “Two weeks ago the author of this bill made an impassioned speech in committee stating that the Legislature needs to protect the women in the industry who cannot protect themselves. And I am quite frankly tired of being compared to an animal in a mainstream movie. I am an adult and I can consent, and let me be clear: no one in this industry is forced to work in this industry.”
There was some initial confusion on the first vote, which was 3-0, one vote shy of what was needed for passage; prompting reports that the bill had been tabled. However, it turned out that it had simply been put on hold (or "on call") so that the abstending members could be cajoled with AHF money to support the bill...and in the end, 2 members ultimately voted for AB 332 to pass, clearing its approval.

So now, it's one more committee, the Appropriations Committee, before Isadore Reed and Mike Weinstein get to play around with the entire California State Assembly. Considering the Democratic supermajority there, it's going to take far more than the regular "Stop evil government intervention" arguments to prevent this bill from passing and ultimately devastating the Cali porn industry. If there was ever a time for the Free Speech Coalition to earn the money that they are constantly and regularly begging for, it is now.

And if there was ever a time for performers, producers, and fans alike to get off the keisters, the bitTorrents, and the tube sites and actually stand up for performers rights and their own right to see safe bareback porn...well, you know the drill. Unless, of course, you like 24/7 PPE fetish porn and softcore...because that's what you are going to get ultimately if this bill becomes law. won't just be a California thing, either...this is meant to be pushed nationwide.

Monday, April 15, 2013

On AB 332, Courage Vests, And The Potential Growth Of Haz-Mat/PPE Fetish Porn

If it wasn't so serious to threaten a legal industry, it would be hilarious.

Last week, the California Assembly's Labor and Employment Committee debated and ultimately sent to the full Assembly AB 332, the attempt to extend the reach of the mandate for porn performers to wear condoms and other forms of "barrier protections" against STI's to the whole state, rather than just the city of Los Angeles (via statue) or jurisdictions of Los Angeles County (thanks to Measure B).

The discussion was pretty intense, with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation represented not only by bill sponsor Isadore Hall, but also by representatives from AHF who testified for the bill; while on the other side, porn performers, producers, and the Free Speech Coalition making the case that the mandate was overbroad, overreaching, and counterproductive to protecting performers.

In the end, though, the bill was sent to the full Assembly on a 5-1 vote, punctuated by a, shall we say, passionate closing speech by Assemblyman Hall in which he channeled all his verbal skills -- accented by probably the ever fattening wallet from AHF contributions -- to motivate the committee to "put on their courage vests" and move this bill on.

That's right, Clones, you heard it correct:  "courage vests".

Because, as you know, it takes genuine courage for an esteemed person like Isadore Hall to pocket all that AHF money to become their new shill and promoter for subsidized condom ad placement on free porn stes....not to mention all the kickbacks he'll be getting for securing AHF's gravy train of NGO funding.

And, what tremendous sac it takes for Mr. Hall to get out in front of the most important issue of our time, especially when "lesser" issues like the continuing HIV/STI pandemic in the broader African American and Latino community can be pushed aside and dismissed for the glory of forcing adult performers to wrap up. Because, as you well know, young impressionable folk only learn about proper sex education and harm prevention from watching porn, not from outreach from medical professionals or proper sex education in schools. Forcing 25-30 year old adult performers to wear rubbers is far more important here than actually distributing condoms and other protective propylactics to the broader public..or, even better, actually seeking cures or vaccines that could potentially prevent STI's from spreading. But, that wouldn't be quite as good for the business of imposing morality, now wouldn't it??

But, maybe this isn't just about exploiting a moral sex panic to destroy a legal industry, or simply special interest groups getting paid off the forced labor of others. Maybe there is something more primal going on with this push for infantilizing porn performers.

Like, you know....Haz-Mat porn fetishes??

Work with me on this do we know that the real reason why Mike Weinstein and his crew are so obsessed with this legislation isn't that they all have secret fetishes for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?? I mean, there are fetishes much more freakier than nutting off on those green aprons, goggles, and face shields, but what's to say that Hall, Weinstein, and company are actually sexual visionaries sensing a potential new and hawt sexual subgenre to mine for instant cash? I can see it now: the instantaneous signage of AB 332 into law combined with the release of the first "safe sex" classic epic, Fifty Shades of Green: Love In The HazMat Room. 

 But, all sarcastic smack aside, folks....the fact remains that AB 322 is a false solution in search of a misplaced problem, and it's passage will not only drive a legal industry underground and threaten the health of actual people; it will also codify an ill-place assumption that scapegoating a minority of performers will somehow help the majority. And, you don't need a "courage vest" to understand that.

See also Lydia Lee's (fka Julie Meadows') outstanding post here, and Mark Kernes' post at AVN here.