Thursday, May 30, 2013

More AB 332 Blowback: Could There Be A Statewide Initiative On The Horizon??

Well...after the California Assembly's Appropriations Committee decided to put the statewide condom mandate bill, AB 332, on temporary ice via "suspense", you got the typical reactions from both sides of the condom debate.

First, this from the Free Speech Coalition, via their director, Diane Duke:
“We are grateful that lawmakers have chosen the best interest of California’s taxpayers and the adult industry over AB 332’s misguided legislation,” Free Speech Coalition (FSC) CEO Diane Duke said. “The adult industry creates a tremendous amount of revenue and jobs for California. We have effective, successful standards in place to protect performers. This ridiculous bill was a solution without a problem.”
 What also gives opponents of the condom mandate some encouragement is the reason Appropriations Committee Chairman Mike Gatto gave for tabling AB 332 (from here, via here):
“Passing a bill, of questionable First Amendment validity, that would certainly subject the state to expensive lawsuits, would simply cost too much for California right now,” he said in a statement.
Needless to say, Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Isadore Hall III, the Assemblyman who sponsored AB 332, have a radically different spin....errrrr, perspective on the bill's future prospects.  And, they are not too happy with Assemblyman Gatto, either. First, here's Assemblyman Hall's brief response, as quoted to the Rock Hill, CA, HeraldOnline website (and reposted by Lydia Lee at her blog):

“No vote was taken today on AB 332 and the bill is not dead. In a two year legislative session, there is plenty of time for this important public health measure to move forward. At this point, one thing is clear. Assemblymember Mike Gatto has put porn profits above the need to protect workers in California. He gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘money shot’.”
Of course, the reason why no vote was taken was because originally at the first Appropriations Committee hearing Hall himself had requested that the bill be pulled, and then Gatto acted to put the bill under "suspense"....and Hall didn't challenge it because he probably realized he didn't have the votes to override Gatto's decision.

But, oh, that was secondary to the reaction from Mike Weinstein of AHF....and he added a thinly veiled threat to take the battle to the next level. From AHF's official statement:
“We are still in the early rounds of the fight for protection of porn performers. You don't win every round. We won't stop. There are still 3 months in this legislative year, which is more than enough time to successfully provide statewide protections for adult film workers,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Access to clean needles for drug users took more than a decade to enact. Since it is apparent that a powerful politician like Assemblyman Mike Gatto favors pornographers over performers we may in the end need to take this issue directly to California voters. We have no doubt that they would overwhelmingly approve condoms in porn the way that L.A. County voters did.”
Forget for a minute the Big Lie of AHF claiming to represent "protection of porn performers" (especially in the face of almost universal opposition from the overwhelming majority of active performers). It's the threat of a public statewide referendum (a la Proposition 8) that should get people's attention. Obviously, they really do think that they own enough of California that they can browbeat the Cali Assembly into submission like they did the City of Los Angeles, who most recently modified their own condom mandate to follow the tougher edicts of Measure B, the Los Angeles County based condom mandate that passed via referendum last year.

Notice also the strained comparison Weinstein makes to the clean needles exchange program...which, if I recall correctly, was an initiative of ACT-UP in the 1980's-1990's in the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Considering AHF's long history of opposing harm prevention and self-cure remedies and measures such as this due to wanting more "behavior modification" strategies, it seems a stretch for them to take such huge credit for enabling drug addiction.

Unless, of course, the real idea is to allow HIV+ performers (read that to mean HIV+ gay male performers such as Derrick Burts) to escape the testing regime and use mandatory condoms and the antidiscrimination laws in Cali as a blanket of employment protection for crossover gay men who might be HIV+?? Between that and the megabucks of proper condom placement and NGO funding, could that be the real initiative behind AHF wanting to blow up the existing testing/screening regime that hetero adult porn has survived on?

Now, imagine what would happen in such a regime where testing is thrown out and condoms (and other such forms of "barrier protection" as face shields, gloves, goggles, and PPE) are totally relied on as the principal means of "protection"...and an infected performer just so happens to shoot a scene where his partner has no means of knowing whether he is clean or infected. Now...imagine what happens if the condom happens to break, or the performer, in his state of arousal, decides to remove it before the scene. got it. And that's before we get to the STI's that condoms don't provide protections against.

Now, Hall and Weinstein has been more than coy about their positions on testing; on the one hand, they say that they are not against testing at all, as long as condoms are still mandated; yet, their stated policy has been that condoms would render testing unnecessary; and that testing is simply a failure of will by the "pornographers" who put their evil profits above the "protection" of the performers. Not to mention, the proposed standards for testing and "barrier protection" for "bloodborne pathogens" that is currently being proposed by Cal-OSHA, the statewide agency for workplace protection, specifically ignore testing for STI's, preferring condoms and other forms of "barrier protection" as their main, if not exclusive, form of protection.

And remember, folks....this isn't just for big time porn production studios. If you own a pay website or a webcam, and have live sex on screen or online, you are or will be or potentially could be affected by this bill....just as you will ultimately be by Measure B if you live in Los Angeles County.

And...what passes California will probably be imposed nationwide, too. To remind you of Mike Weinstein's solemn oath: "Wherever they go, we will follow."

Shooting some pennies to and would be a good idea indeed. Supporting your favorite porn performers who speak out against AB 332 and Measure B would be even better.


  1. I think AHF is getting a lesson in the realpolitik of California, and it's likely to be the first of several. He may be very good at intimidating some corporations and deluding a certain part of the electorate that doesn't bother to engage brain before pulling lever, but in the bigger league where he's now playing the game is much tougher.

    He's now made enemies of L.A. County Supervisors and all the departments under them. Average term on the board is 15 years. How do you think those guys stay on that board so long if they don't know how to use their elbows?

    At the state level, the players are even tougher. Unlike the dopes here who failed to challenge the bogus petitions that put Measure B on the ballot, I seriously doubt the secretary of state will certify an iteration of Measure B for a statewide initiative ballot because they understand that it would be a nightmare to enforce if passed. They'll bury it just like they buried AB 330.

    Weintsein's used to getting his way, but not this time. There's too much political risk and too much money at stake for more powerful politicians to knuckle under to his whining and bullying.

  2. Psst, Anthony:

    I have my first submission to this blog ready - my presentation at the Left Forum earlier this month. How do I submit?

    1. Sheldon...just email me and I will put you in as an contributor, then you can post your submission directly. Or, just email me your contribution and I will post it for 'ya, giving you the full credit.

      Email addy: OR

  3. Don't see it, may have been accidently put in my spam folder and deleted unwittingly.

    I've gone ahead and put you in manually as a contributor using your iwon your email for the invite.