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Should condom use in pornography be regulated by the city or the state?

Wrapped packages of condoms and other safe-sex items are seen before a free clinic offering HIV testing December 1, 2010.
Wrapped packages of condoms and other safe-sex items are seen before a free clinic offering HIV testing December 1, 2010.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

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Everybody knows that using condoms during sexual intercourse is safer than not using them, but what the City of Los Angeles appears to be uncertain about is who is responsible for regulating this safety precaution within the adult film industry. A proposed ballot measure that would require porn actors to wear condoms while filming in the city of Los Angeles has qualified for the June ballot. However, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has filed court papers earlier this month arguing that Los Angeles voters would have no legal authority to adopt the proposed measure even if it were listed on a ballot.

Trutanich asserted that only the state — not the city — could legally implement rules requiring the use of condoms on porn sets and charge inspection fees. However, Ellen Widess, the head of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health that regulates workplace safety, claims the city could legally impose the actions necessary to uphold the proposed ballot measure. "We believe the city can use its authority to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among people involved in the adult film industry" said Widess in a recent interview. County health officials have repeatedly stated it would be difficult to regulate the porn industry through the Department of Public Health and the county’s public health chief has said that the issue is a matter for the California Legislature.


How appropriate is it for any government, city or state, to require adult film actors to wear condoms? Who should pay for enforcing the use of condoms? What are the consequences when cities and states place legal culpability on each other?


Michael Weinstein, President, AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Jeffrey Douglas, Chairman of the Board for the Free Speech Coalition; also a criminal defense and First Amendment attorney

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