California Rejected a Porn Law That Would Have Turned Anyone Into a Condom Cop

Proposition 60 looks good on the surface, but opponents say it puts performers at risk.

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Oct 31 2016, 3:00pm

Image: Getty Images

Updated Nov. 9, 2016: On Tuesday, voters in California rejected a proposed law that would have made any state resident capable of enforcing the use of condoms on porn sets. Fifty-four percent of the electorate voted against the proposition. Here's our previous coverage of the proposition, what it would have done, and why opponents rejected it:

These days, the internet enables us to find porn that includes just about anything we can imagine. Except, that is, for condoms.

The industry has long eschewed rubbers, but that could all change after the election if Californians vote to enact Proposition 60, a controversial law that would not only require condom use in porn, but would allow citizens to enforce the law themselves through lawsuits. On the surface it seems like a law aimed at protecting adult entertainers, but Prop. 60 includes a lot of shady, potentially privacy-violating measures.

Under Proposition 60, condom requirements would be enforceable by any state residents. That means anyone in California who watches porn filmed in the state and notices there were no condoms being used could file a complaint to California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. If the complaint isn't settled within three weeks, that resident could then sue anyone with a financial stake in the film. If they win the lawsuit, they'd get their legal fees automatically paid for by the porn producers, as well as 25 percent of any penalties.

But many adult film workers say it would put performers at risk.

"They're banking on the voters of California thinking porn is what it was in the 1970s, but it's a whole different animal," said Tasha Reign, an adult film performer who opposes the law. "We have our own websites, the majority of us. So we're all going to be held accountable for these videos because we're the ones making them. I am the company. I am the producer."

Tasha Reign has been in the adult entertainment industry for eight years. Image: Courtesy Tasha Reign

Condoms have been required on porn shoots in California since 1992, but enforcement fell to the Cal-OSHA, which rarely enforced it. Michael Weinstein, the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the main proponent of the measure, has long pushed to find ways to get these laws more strictly enforced. He successfully got a more detailed condom porn law passed by voters in Los Angeles in 2012, but it also was never heavily enforced, which is why he's pushing Prop. 60.

The law is widely opposed by not only the adult entertainment industry, but also multiple public health groups, dozens of newspaper editorial boards, and both the Democratic and Republican parties.

"How did this initiative get on the ballot in the first place?" Reign said over the phone. "It's like voting on whether the UFC should wear goggles when they fight. That would be outrageous."

Read More: Hey Sexters, Here's a Very Good Reason to Care About Porn Laws

There are lots of reasons why the porn industry has never been a fan of condoms. These range from practical—shoots can be long, and include multiple participants, which would mean a lot of stopping and starting to swap condoms—to personal: some performers are allergic, or just don't like condoms. Others say the audience simply doesn't want to see condoms.

So although they're one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections, the industry has largely opted instead to rely on a voluntary, but widely-practised system of regular testing. Because of this, there have been few porn-related cases of HIV transmission over the last 10 years, and no reported cases of on-set transmission in California for more than a decade, according to the LA Times.

But while Reign takes issue with the idea of having the government mandate which contraception she chooses to use at work, she said the opposition to the initiative is largely due to the potential lawsuits. These would require performers to reveal their legal names and home addresses, raising privacy concerns for workers who often choose to go by stage names.

Despite the widespread opposition, Reign is concerned California voters—facing 17 propositions on this year's ballot—might not be hearing the criticism and will vote yes thinking the law protects workers. If that happens, she believes it could drive the industry out of state or even underground, making it even more dangerous for performers.

For her part, Reign—who has worked in the adult entertainment industry for eight years—told me she would stop performing if the proposition passes, and focus on writing and modeling so she could abide by the law but stay in California.

"I'm not going to leave because some creepy old man came and told me to wrap it up or I'm going to be criminalized," Reign said. "Absolutely not."

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