Porn industry gearing up to fight new condom law

The Free Speech Coalition argues that the law requiring actors to wear condoms is unconstitutional "on the grounds of forced expression" and would file a lawsuit challenging it.

 

In the aftermath of the Nov. 6 passage of Measure B, which requires the Los Angeles County Health Department to lead inspection and enforcement efforts guaranteeing that adult film actors wear condoms, the porn industry is vowing to fight the new requirement. Everyone from actors to producers and agents have said that the new rule would drive business from Los Angeles County to such places as Nevada, Arizona and Florida, and many porn players are planning to mount a legal challenge.

"This is the first battle in a long war," says Steven Hirsch, founder of Vivid Entertainment Group, adding that his Studio City-based adult entertainment company could be forced to relocate elsewhere as a result of the new rule.

The Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the adult entertainment industry, penned a letter to the L.A County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 7 that argued the law is unconstitutional "on the grounds of forced expression" and would file a lawsuit challenging it.

Measure B, officially known as the "Safe Sex Initiative," requires porn producers filming in Los Angeles County to secure a public health permit after satisfactorily completing a course on blood-borne pathogens and submitting an "exposure control plan" for their shoot. The fees charged for the permits theoretically would cover the salaries of new county health inspectors, who would be present on adult film sets.

But the Free Speech Coalition said that the new requirement would create "enforcement conundrums," and the letter suggests that other jurisdictions have courted the adult entertainment industry and that this measure could drive the business out of the county.

But Dan Miller, executive managing editor of industry publication XBIZ, doesn't expect a sudden exodus. "Most people are going to take a wait-and-see attitude. They aren't packing up their offices and moving."

Measure B, which was approved with 56 percent of the vote, was drafted by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which also contributed $1.6 million to secure its passage, according to the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office. "We were severely outspent," says Hirsch. "[But] the industry is ready to fight."