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Elections: L.A. County voters to decide on porn condom measure

November 6, 2012 |  9:19 am

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

California voters will decide on a president, the future of the death penalty and whether to allow temporary taxes that will fund education.

But Los Angeles County voters face another question at the polls: Should pornographic movie performers be required to wear condoms during filming?

Measure B would require adult film producers to obtain public health permits from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, much like tattoo shops, massage parlors and bathhouses do. The county would be authorized to conduct random spot inspections and revoke the permits of producers who violate the ordinance, and violations could result in civil fines or misdemeanor charges.

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

The cost of implementing the law would be paid for by porn producers.

On one side of the question is the L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has been crusading for protecting porn stars from HIV. The group has cast the measure as one that would protect worker safety — like requiring construction workers to wear hard hats — and keeps the public safe from outbreaks of sexually transmitted disease.

"It is a health and safety issue," said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Opposing Measure B is a lucrative adult film industry said to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sales while providing jobs to thousands of actors, makeup artists, camera crews, caterers and the like. If the measure passes, some producers suggest, the business could simply move outside the county.

James Lee, spokesman for Measure B's opponents, said the porn industry tried in 1998 to mandate condom use after sex film actresses tested positive for HIV, but found that video sales fell 30%.

The industry then required that porn stars be regularly tested to keep infected actors from working, a protocol it says works. Porn producers say they don't need the creation of an unwanted, ineffective county bureaucracy.

"People don't buy porn that features condoms," Lee said.

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— Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo: Voters line up to cast their ballots Tuesday morning at the Cetacean Society building on Point Fermin. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

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