Adult Performers Speak Out Against Ballot Initiative at Capitol Hearing

Jun 10, 2016 12:18 PM PST

SACRAMENTO — The Free Speech Coalition announced that dozens of adult performers from across the state descended on the California State Capitol Wednesday to speak out against a new ballot initiative that would allow any private citizen to sue an adult performer anytime a condom is not visible in an adult film.

At an informational hearing with the state legislature, performers called for the ballot initiative to be pulled all together. Many such as Ela Darling of APAC, spoke passionately about their own experiences with stalkers and harassers, detailing how the enforcement provision of the law would empower those who wished to harm them.

“This initiative is a disaster for the safety and well-being of performers and other industry workers,” said Eric Paul Leue, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition. “The proponents of this initiative can no longer pretend to not know the real effects this would have on performers lives, including the LGBTQ members of our community. We ask that the proponents pull the initiative before any performers or other workers are harmed.”

Representatives of Michael Weinstein, the controversial proponent of the legislation, confirmed that performers could indeed be sued under the initiative.

That led legislators to raise other concerns, including the possibility that the initiative would spur a cottage industry of for-profit lawsuits against performers. Because the initiative contains a rebuttable presumption that a condom was not used any time one can not be seen, there exists the possibility of multiple lawsuits against each adult film made in California.

“This initiative creates liabilities for every part of the production and distribution chain, from performers and producers to cable companies and hotel networks,” said Karen Tynan, an attorney for numerous adult clients, who spoke at the joint hearing. “We’re talking about tens of thousands of frivolous lawsuits. It is a legal nightmare for California.”

The ballot initiative has been opposed by a wide variety of individuals and organizations, including the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC), AIDS Project Los Angeles, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the Free Speech Coalition, the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, the California Republican Party and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA). The Los Angeles Commission on HIV has also recommended as part of its legislative slate that the LA Board of Supervisors oppose the measure. At the May 31 Board of Supervisors’ meeting, adult industry workers implored the Supervisors to follow that recommendation.

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