Op-Ed: No One Wants a 'Porn Czar'; #NoProp60

Sep 19, 2016 1:52 PM PST

Proposition 60 is not about safer sex or worker safety. The initiative’s approach is about power and control, and Californians should vote “no” on Prop 60 on Nov. 8.

For more than a dozen years, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Michael Weinstein has been trying to elbow his way into the politics of the adult entertainment film business, and I have been following and providing news coverage for XBIZ each and every move along the way.

His organization started protesting in front of adult studios for the press brigades, beginning with the LFP offices in June 2004. But, later, the group double-downed its approach by initiating legislative attempts, waging lawsuits and filing complaints with worker safety authorities over condom-less porn productions.

Weinstein was successful, of course, with Measure B in Los Angeles County, after his group spent $1.65 million in efforts to convince a majority of voters in 2012 to approve the condom-requirement ordinance.  

But his ideas to overregulate porn with unrealistic protocols for filming sexually explicit content crashed and burned in California’s Legislature through the years, as well.

With his latest attempt, Prop 60, Weinstein has voyaged on to his most misguided pursuit of all, with his organization spending $1.4 million for the required signatures to put the initiative before voters.

It screams peculiarity only because the adult filmmaking industry hasn’t had an on-set HIV transmission in the past 12 years, but coincidentally during that time the industry has beefed up its screening services to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for all.

In addition to providing affordable, high-quality testing with a secure database to ensure performer privacy and to protect producer liability, the industry in the past dozen years has created strict protocols in the event of a positive HIV test.

Now, as Nov. 8 gets closer, Californians are getting a clearer look at what’s motivating such an initiative … because it apparently isn’t solely based on safety.

If passed by California voters, Prop 60 would allow anyone to sue the producer of an adult film that didn’t follow condom rules if state authorities fail to act on a complaint within 21 days.

Weinstein, who has for the past 12 years been uncompromising and dictatorial to an industry that has successfully been able to thwart infection outbreaks within its performer population, would effectively be crowned “porn czar” if the initiative passes.

Weinstein in all likelihood could get a cut of the judgments, and taxpayers would be tapped to provide reimbursement for legal services, as well.

Weinstein’s likely windfall would be reinvested in efforts to drive the industry underground and out of state and to make performers vulnerable to harassment and lawsuits. But, worse off, passage of the initiative likely would take away control of performers’ own bodies.

Again, Prop 60 is not about safer sex or worker safety. It is about creating a new private right of action and diluting what the industry already has set in place in regards to safety standards.

In those dozen years leading up to today, the industry has done a more-than-adequate job regulating itself and making performers safer and better informed about their health choices.

This initiative would make performers working in the industry less safe, if passed. And it also could have consequences much farther up the road, including potential defendants that were never thought of.

Under Prop 60’s language, liability could go well past producers but to performers who have a financial interest in the film, as well as any individual or entity that distributes adult films in California.

And it likely would not stop there. Prop 60, if passed, could have the ability to trigger other instances of liability if future regulations were to pass, specifically those involving the unresolved issues over amendments to bloodborne pathogen rules for California workers.

Could Prop 60 spark a wave of litigation with ancillary businesses connected in the adult entertainment industry? There could be many unknowns if Prop 60 were to pass.

So far, Yes on Prop 60 proponents haven’t convinced some of the top papers in the state over the initiative. The San Diego Union-Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Fresno Bee, the Sacramento Bee, the Mercury News, the East Bay Times and the Orange County Register all have urged a “no” vote on the proposition.

The proposition’s proponents also haven’t persuaded the numerous organizations that have seen through this sham and are opposed to the measure, including the California Democratic Party, the California Republican Party, the Free Speech Coalition, Equality California, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, San Francisco Medical Society, AIDS Project LA, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Transgender Law Center and APAC, the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee.

So far, the No on Prop 60 campaign has kept pace in recent polls, despite the fact that Yes on Prop 60’s sponsor, the AHF, has contributed $1.8 million to push its agenda — a hefty amount considering the No on 60 campaign has a war chest of a fraction of that, according to the most recent stats from California’s secretary of state.

It’s a flawed initiative that refuses to take notice industry testing procedures in place, hands a jackpot to an outsider seeking power and control and ignores the obvious — it would have the ability to destabilize the industry and place it underground.

The old saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” Upon closer examination of Prop 60, it is fair to say the “devil” here is Weinstein himself.

I urge Californians to side with the adult entertainment industry and vote “no” on Prop 60.

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