Michael Weinstein’s adult film fantasy: To become California’s first porn czar

March 19, 2015

pornwire19n-1-webMichael Weinstein has proposed a dangerous ballot measure based in bias, fear and outdated morality. Rather than supporting adult performers, or promoting safer sex on sets in California, the new initiative will actually limit sexual health choices for performers on-set, and will augur the destruction of the testing and safety standards that have kept California adult film sets among the safest in the world.

With this measure, Michael Weinstein plans to divert millions of dollars that would otherwise go to HIV care and prevention to fund his personal obsession with the adult film industry.  According to the official financial summary, the initiative will cost taxpayers “tens of millions of dollars,” if not more, and push “thousands of jobs” out of California. Weinstein’s relentless campaign against the adult industry in California has already resulted in an exodus of adult businesses to other states, and the loss of countless jobs and tax revenue. It has not resulted in safer sets, nor have any of his efforts been supported by the performers themselves.

The initiative is not about forcing the adult entertainment industry to use condoms; it’s about Michael Weinstein gaining control over it.  If passed, Weinstein would be in charge of monitoring adult film, and would be able to personally file an unlimited number of lawsuits directly against adult film performers, producers and agents even if there was no apparent any harm or injury.

The initiative grants Weinstein the power of the California Attorney General;  paid for by taxpayers and subject to impeachment only by a vote of the entire California Legislature. We should all work to constantly improve set safety, but an unimpeachable, state-subsidized porn czar is that last thing California needs. We expect this measure, like his previous failed attempts, to face widespread opposition by performers, public health officials, free speech advocates and HIV outreach organizations.


Weinstein’s Crusade Could Cost State ‘Tens of Millions’ of Dollars, Says Legislative Analyst’s Office

March 4, 2015

weinstein_michaelAccording to a report by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, a proposed state ballot measure that ALLOWS ANY CALIFORNIA resident to sue an adult film company, performer or distributor, could cost the state tens of millions of dollars through loss of massive tax revenue.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office, the California Legislator’s non-partisan fiscal and policy advisory, suggests that the proposed initiative could result in the migration of the billion-dollar adult industry from California or underground.

“The state stands to lose tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue, and thousands of vital jobs for what is essentially a one-man moral crusade. This analysis supports what we’ve been saying for years. It’s costly and wasteful and would ultimately hurt performers,” said Diane Duke Free Speech Coalition CEO.

Performers have largely opposed similar legislative proposals, taking the position that any effective regulation needs to begin with performer choice.

The proposed ballot measure would result in a taxpayer-subsidized office that would be tasked with the review of every adult film shot in California to establish that a condom was used. Additionally, under the proposed initiative, Michael Weinstein, head of the controversial AIDS Healthcare Foundation, could be sworn in as a quasi-Attorney General, a position paid by taxpayer dollars, and could only be removed from that post by a vote of the California Legislature.

“Weinstein’s obsession with adult films will cost California tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue and will result in a loss of critical services for our communities, said Duke.  “Weinstein wants to line his pockets with taxpayer money and appoint himself as Attorney General.”


Misguided ‘Adult Film Act’ Would Remove Performer Protections, Drive Industry Underground

January 13, 2015

Today, Michael Weinstein of AHF submitted the draft text of his controversial statewide ballot measure, which would force adult film performers to wear condoms, calling them a threat to public health.

The Act would result in an effective criminalization of the adult industry. Under AHF’s proposed Act, those involved in the manufacture of an adult film that did not comply would be personally liable for massive penalties for even minor infractions. The Act would require adult film producers to be issued licenses by the government in order to produce, and would require performers to submit their personal medical records for state inspection. Talent agents would be punished for representing adult performers.  And, perhaps most dramatically, and in an acknowledgement that Measure B succeeded in driving the industry out of state, the Act would effectively prohibit the sale and distribution of adult films produced without condoms inside California, even in private transactions. This is not regulation — this is Prohibition.

The Act would destroy the industry as we know it, drive the existing producers underground, and eliminate hard-fought performer protections. This process has already begun to happen in the wake of AHF”s misguided Measure B. Film permits dropped, productions moved out-of-state, and producers began shooting outside the industry’s widely praised testing system. That’s why, like AHF’s previous campaigns, we expect this will be vigorously opposed by performers.

Performers should always have the right to use a condom, but AHF’s conservative morality should not be forced on them under penalty of law. Performer should have control over their bodies, not the government and certainly not Michael Weinstein.


RECENT DPH REPORT ADDRESSES NON-COMPLIANT OUT-OF-STATE SHOOT IN SEPTEMBER

December 30, 2014

Yesterday, the California Department of Public Health released information about an incident this past September concerning a performer with HIV working on a non-compliant adult film set in Nevada. This is, however, not a ‘current threat’ as stated in the press release.

At the time of the incident, the Free Speech Coalition immediately cooperated with the Department of Public Health, and called a moratorium to determine if there was any risk of transmission to performers on PASS compliant adult sets. Non-complaint shoots are one of the chief dangers of pushing the adult industry out of state, and outside the established testing protocol.

The shoots in question did not adhere to the PASS testing protocols and were shot outside of the PASS testing database used by adult performers. Not only did this leave those who participated at risk, it made it much harder to track scene partners once the possible infection was discovered.

While the set did use a degree of HIV testing, it fell below the standard set by PASS protocols, including the use of an ELISA HIV tests, rather than the highly sensitive RNA tests required by the industry. The ELISA tests have large window periods that delay how early an infection can be detected, and have not been accepted within the adult industry for over a decade.

Neither did the shoot utilize the PASS database. However, once alerted by the DPH to the incident, the Free Speech Coalition worked swiftly to shut down production within the larger industry and help track any possible exposures in or out of the PASS database. While performers in the PASS database were not affected, participants on the non-compliant shoot may have been exposed.

The adult film industry has been working with government agencies including Cal/OSHA to bring remaining producers shooting outside of the PASS protocols into compliance. The PASS system utilized by the industry is a proven testing protocol that has been effective in preventing any on-set transmission of HIV for more than ten years.

For more information about industry protocols, moratoriums and testing:

https://fscblogger.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/an-faq-about-stis-testing-and-moratoriums/


Measure B Decision will Hurt Performers

December 16, 2014
Policeman in Hazmat clothing with gieger counterThe 9th Circuit Court of California announced today that it would decline to issue an injunction to stop the Measure B, the 2012 ballot measure which seeks mandate condoms in adult film produced in Los Angeles County. This latest decision is not a ruling on the constitutionality of Measure B, but rather a decision declining to enjoin the rest of the statute at this time. Previous courts have struck down the enforcement component of the law; this latest ruling does not change that decision.

“While this intermediate decision allows that condoms may be mandated, it doesn’t meant they should be,” said Diane Duke, CEO of the Free Speech Coalition. “We have spent the last two years fighting for the right of adult performers to make their own decisions about their bodies, and against the stigma against adult film performers embodied in the statute. Rather than protect adult performers, a condom mandate pushes a legal industry underground where workers are less safe. This is terrible policy that has been defeated in other legislative venues.”

Los Angeles County has seen a 95% drop in permits since the passage of Measure B, as adult film production has moved into neighboring counties, and out of state, most notably to Las Vegas.

Under standards enforced by the industry, in order to work, adult film performers must test every fourteen-days for a full-slate of STIs, including HIV. There has not been a transmission of HIV on a regulated adult film set in over a decade.

“This decision will hurt performers,” said Duke. “That’s why a broad coalition that includes doctors, public health advocates, performers and performers rights groups came together to defeat similar legislation this summer.“

Plaintiffs in the case are considering all options for moving forward and will make a decision in the coming weeks.


Adult Industry Calls Weinstein Statewide Condom Bill “Misguided and Dangerous”

November 7, 2014

no-on-measure-b2Performers and producers oppose Michael Weinstein’s dangerous and ill-informed attacks on the adult industry. This morning, he will announce that he will place a statewide version of his disastrous Measure B legislation on the ballot. Measure B, a Los Angeles condom ordinance, resulted in a 95% drop in permits for adult production, and spurred an industry exodus to Las Vegas.

Diane Duke, head of the Free Speech Coalition, released this statement:

“Michael Weinstein is resorting to the ballot initiative process because he can’t get it done any other way. His campaign has failed multiple times in the legislature, it’s has been opposed by HIV outreach and LGBT groups, it’s been opposed by civil rights groups, it’s been opposed by newspaper editorial boards and, most importantly, it’s been opposed by performers. Why? Because the bill not only takes away performers’ control over their own bodies, it pushes the industry out of California and underground, making performers ultimately less safe.

Anyone who looks at the data around performer health sees that Weinstein’s campaign is more about his dislike for the adult industry than it is about workplace safety. Despite shooting hundreds of thousands of scenes, there hasn’t been a transmission of HIV on a regulated adult set since 2004 thanks to a rigorous protocol that requires performers to be tested every fourteen days for a full slate of STIs including HIV. Yet because it attracts donors to his organization and headlines for himself, Weinstein has manufactured a crisis.

In his one-man war against the adult industry, Weinstein routinely uses performers who contracted HIV in their personal lives, and were stopped from working by testing protocol, as evidence of danger. It’s cynical and shameful, and he’s been reprimanded repeatedly by public health authorities for making claims that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

As a result, Weinstein now uses confusing language, most notably “the performers contracted HIV while working in the adult industry” to imply that transmission happened on a set without making the claim directly. (It’s like saying “Magic Johnson contracted HIV while working as a basketball player”). Having failed at the legislative level, he’s now hoping that he can use such language to confuse voters.

Michael Weinstein’s controversial AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been under fire locally and nationally for using his taxpayer funded organization to enforce various versions of his conservative morality. His misguided morality campaign is not limited to adult sets — as part of his condom-only campaign, he has called for an end to HIV vaccine research, he opposed medication that can prevent HIV transmission, and he has sued the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles when they’ve opposed him.

Performer health is important. But performers, the most tested population on the planet, should have the ultimate right to control their bodies and their health. They don’t deserve to be shamed or treated as a public danger, or to have their rights trampled. Michael Weinstein is using taxpayer money to fund a campaign that is opposed by performers, public health experts, and civil rights groups, in hopes that he can use the ballot initiative to accomplish what has failed in every other venue. We, likewise, will oppose this.”


Controversial Condom Mandate Dies in Senate

August 14, 2014

Picture 1Performer and Producer Groups Celebrate Successful Battle Against AB1576

AB1576, the controversial condom mandate that was opposed by both performers, producers and civil rights groups, died today in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill was the third attempt bill by Assemblymember Isadore Hall to mandate condoms in adult film, and the third to fail.

Diane Duke, head of the Free Speech Coalition, said the industry was pleased with the decision.

“We’re grateful to the members of the Senate who saw this bill for what it was — a bald-faced attempt to exploit performers for political gain. But the assault had an unintended consequences — it unified performers and producers in ways that we haven’t seen in decades. Out of this grows a stronger industry, one not unintimidated by harassment campaigns like AB1576 and Measure B. But the battle is never over. We must continue to work to make sure our workplaces are safe, that our performers have a strong voice in their sexual health, and that we keep a thriving industry in California.”

Opponents of the bill warned legislators that the bill, which was written without input from either performers or producers, would have the opposite of its intended effect, and make sets less safer by pushing them underground. The bill also garnered large amount of opposition outside the industry, including from AIDS and HIV outreach organizations, sex worker rights organizations, LGBT groups, and mainstream publications like the Orange County Register, the LA Daily News and the LA Times.


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