LOS ANGELES COUNTY—A county election official confirmed to the Los Angeles Times Wednesday that a proposed ballot measure to make condoms mandatory throughout Los Angles County has gathered enough signatures to be on the November ballot. The measure has been pushed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), whose president, Michael Weinstein, has indulged a megalomaniac obsession with the adult industry for several years now. The fact that he has persistently distorted rates of infection within the industry, as well as lying about the effectiveness of the testing regime used by the industry, has not stopped him from committing copious time and resources to force condoms onto all adult performers in the state.
In typical hyperbolic fashion, Weinstein told the Times today, "The lives of these performers are not disposable. This industry is sending out the wrong message about safer sex."
It is not the responsibility of any entertainment industry, however, to send messages about anything. Rather, it is to create content—movies, music, television shows, theater—that is enjoyed by a consuming public. Beyond that, every industry has a responsibility to employ mechanisms that keep its workers safe, which is something the adult entertainment industry has done statistically successfully for many years.
As AVN Senior Editor Mark Kernes documented one year ago, not only AHF but Los Angeles County health officials have time and again lied about STD rates in the adult industry. Those lies, which were also witnessed being used by signature gatherers working to get an earlier mandatory condom initiative on the Los Angeles City ballot—a campaign made moot when the LA City Council voted to make condom use mandatory—were no doubt also used by AHF signature gatherers working on the county initiative.
The plan for the county differs significantly from the one devised for the city, which ties mandatory condom use to the issuance of film permits. The county measure would mimic health permits required of establishments like tattoo and massage parlors by requiring producers of adult films to obtain a public health permit from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and also pay a permit fee to fund enforcement. A copy of the measure can be found here.
Though Diane Duke was not available for comment today, a national holiday celebrating the nation's independence, she did comment in May when AHF first announced that it had gathered the necessary signatures for inclusion on the November ballot.
That comment is reprinted here in its entirety:
Today, AIDS Healthcare Foundation announced that they have gathered 360,000 signatures to put a mandatory condom measure on the LA County ballot for November. What this announcement really means is that they have spent upwards of two million dollars on paid signature gatherers to get a useless bill in front of LA County voters. It is important that LA County voters understand the real issue behind AHF’s push for this unnecessary ballot measure.
In its press release, AHF stated that "the Measure is modeled on County's health permit process for tattoo and massage parlors and bathhouses." The big difference between those businesses and the adult film industry is that with adult, contact with the public occurs through television, computers and smart phones. There is no direct contact with the public, so how can this be a public health issue?
A 152-page epidemiological profile on HIV/AIDS was distributed by the LA County Department of Public Health in 2010. The sole purpose of the document was to provide guidance to LA County and non-profit organizations on the best use of their resources concerning HIV in LA County. Nowhere in that report are adult productions even mentioned. The report does identify the Latino population, African-Americans, the un-insured, the under-insured and people in poverty, as areas of concern for HIV and targets for HIV resources. Imagine how many people's health needs could have been served with the millions AHF has already wasted on this ballot measure. Imagine how many will go unserved if the County is forced to waste its limited HIV resources on a problem that doesn't exist.
Since 2008, 6,300 new cases of HIV have been reported in LA County. None of the 6,300 cases have occurred on an adult set. The rigorous testing protocols in place have resulted in a zero onset transmission of HIV for the past 8 years! One concern raised in the County’s epidemiological profile is the number of people in LA County who are walking around with HIV but are untested. Testing every 28 days, adult performers are the most tested population in LA County!
There are a number of nonprofit organizations that provide excellent education and services for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately AIDS Healthcare Foundation has lost its service focus and is now in the HIV "business" and will do or say anything to increase its fame and fortune. The County condom measure is just its next and latest "business" opportunity.