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Forcing porn actors to wear condoms sparks legal battle

December 15, 2011 |  5:30 am

Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen A. Trutanich, left, and City Councilman Paul Koretz attend a news conference in September. Credit: David Livingston / Getty Images

A fight is brewing at Los Angeles City Hall over whether voters can legally consider a ballot measure that would make adult film actors wear condoms during filming within city limits.

Lawsuit: Should condoms be required on porn shoots? The proposed initiative would force any adult filmmaker to require that performers use condoms and allow the city to charge a fee to pay for inspections of sets, according to Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Last month, the group said it had collected more than 70,000 signatures calling for a vote, far more than the 41,000 needed to put the measure on the city ballot in June.

But last week, City Atty. Carmen Trutanich filed a complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court saying that "Los Angeles voters have no power to adopt the proposed measure," because only the state -- not the city -- has the ability to make such rules. Trutanich’s suit raised the question that a voter-approved condom requirement could attract a lawsuit, forcing “the needless and wasteful expenditure of public resources made in connection with a measure which the voters have no power to adopt.”

"What we're trying to do is seek judicial clarification to see if the city of Los Angeles is pre-empted from regulating condoms in adult film shoots or whether those powers are relegated to other state agencies," said Frank Mateljan, spokesman for Trutanich.

DOCUMENTS: Trutanich's lawsuit | City council motion | Cal/OSHA letter

City Councilman Paul Koretz said in an interview Wednesday that Trutanich's action to block the ballot measure was "anti-democratic." "Usually, we have the people have their say first," Koretz said.

Koretz and Councilman Bill Rosendahl wrote a Council motion, submitted Tuesday, asking that Trutanich  withdraw the lawsuit. There was no vote, Koretz said, and the issue will remain on hold while the City Clerk checks to see whether enough valid signatures have indeed been collected to put the initiative on the ballot.

Koretz and Weinstein noted that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has said the city does have the authority to require condom use. "The Legislature allows local safety action," wrote James D. Clark, staff counsel to Cal/OSHA, in a letter to the City Council.

"The people have a right to vote," Weinstein said. Worrying about lawsuits coming after the election is "not a reason to prevent a democratic vote from taking place."

"I really question what's going on here. Who is putting pressure on the city to keep this thing off the ballot?" Weinstein asked.

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Photo: Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen A. Trutanich, left, and City Councilman Paul Koretz attend a news conference in September. Credit: David Livingston / Getty Images

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