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Porn condom law won big in nonwhite, working-class areas

November 9, 2012 |  4:00 am

APphoto_AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Condoms in Porn Ballot
Los Angeles County's porn condom law won big in nonwhite, working-class areas, according to an analysis of voting results.

Countywide, Measure B won by 56% to 42%, but the ballot initiative requiring condoms to be used during porn filming racked up huge margins in lower-income neighborhoods that are either heavily Latino, black or both, like East Los Angeles (67%); Inglewood (75%); Compton (76%); Los Angeles' 8th City Council District in South L.A (76%); and Willowbrook, south of Watts (77%).

In contrast, neighborhoods voicing the most opposition to a condom requirement were higher-income areas that have significant white majorities. The "no" vote for the measure rose to 54% in Malibu, Ranchos Palos Verdes, Westlake Village and Sierra Madre; 55% in Calabasas, La Crescenta, and Topanga; 56% in Redondo Beach; 57% in Hidden Hills and Rolling Hills Estates; 58% in El Segundo; 59% in Manhattan Beach; and 60% in Hermosa Beach.

SPREADSHEET: Look at how cities and council districts voted on the porn-condom measure

"I think that what you see is a no vote amongst white voters, and a yes vote amongst Latinos and African Americans," said Darry Sragow, a longtime political strategist and attorney unaffiliated with either side of the campaign.

What's unusual about the numbers is that areas seen as reliably Republican, like the  Palos Verdes Peninsula, and liberal bastions like the Westside voted against the measure. What both areas have in common is they are both whiter and have higher incomes than the rest of the county.

RELATED: Condoms in porn: Group wants to take campaign statewide

The city of Los Angeles voted by a 12-point margin to back the condom measure, a margin mirroring the countywide vote. Measure B won majorities in city council districts covering downtown, Boyle Heights, South L.A., San Pedro, Silver Lake, the eastern San Fernando Valley, and surprisingly, in the southwest Valley, including Canoga Park, where the adult film industry's lobbying group is based.

Only four of L.A.'s 15 council districts voted against Measure B, which include the 12th District, the northwest section of the Valley that includes Chatsworth and the hub of porn production; and the 4th, 5th and 11th districts, which cover the Westside, Encino, Sherman Oaks and the Hollywood Hills.

The early absentee ballot vote came in heavy for the condom measure, with 64% of the vote, a margin that narrowed to 56%.

James Lee, spokesman for porn industry's campaign against Measure B, said he thought that showed that the industry's efforts were working, but they didn't have enough money and ran out of time. Lee said he believed they got a boost when the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times and the Daily News and its sister suburban papers came out against the measure.

But he said their side spent under $300,000. The L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a provider of healthcare for HIV patients that backed Measure B, said it spent $900,000 on the campaign, in addition to the $1.1 million spent to gather signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.

"We got outspent, big time," Lee said. "We had only four days of advertising" on television.

The AIDS group mounted a multi-pronged campaign, mailing  fliers, billboards, TV commercials and front-page newspaper sticker ads advertising the backing of the Los Angeles County Medical Assn. They touted an endorsement from La Opinion, the dominant Spanish-language newspaper, drove an 18-wheel big rig with a "Vote Yes on B"  around the region, and passed out condoms.

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said he thought the breakdown of the vote showed that working-class voters endorsed the idea that porn performers should have employee protection.

Measure B was endorsed by "people who relate to the idea that you can get hurt in the workplace," Weinstein said. "I think it's unlikely that people in Malibu and Palos Verdes are factory workers or construction workers."

As for speculation that areas hit highest with HIV infection came out strongly for Measure B, Weinstein said that was not true. West Hollywood has the highest rate of HIV infections in the county, and rejected the measure, he said.

Weinstein has waged a lonely battle for nearly a decade on requiring condoms in porn, becoming vocal on it since 2005, after a porn star infected three sex film actresses with HIV. His attempts to get local public health officials to require condom use went nowhere, with county supervisors uninterested in the issue.

After another porn star was infected with HIV in 2010, Weinstein decided to take the question to the voters. 

The porn industry  has said consumers don't want to buy porn featuring condoms. They say that regular testing porn stars for HIV and disease is effective at reducing the risk of disease transmission. They have threatened to both sue the county over Measure B while preparing to move film production elsewhere.

ALSO:

Porn industry declares war on new condom law

Condoms in porn: Law doesn’t apply to Pasadena, Long Beach

How will L.A. County enforce the law requiring condoms in porn?

-- Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo: Supporters of Vote Yes on B hand out free condoms on the Sunset Strip on Oct. 27, 2012. Credit: Joe Kohen / Associated Press images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation

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