By: MIA LI
That California voters should oppose Proposition 60. They’ve been joined by the editorial boards of many of the state’s largest newspapers including the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. More than 100 other groups have also opposed the measure, including HIV/AIDS organizations, political groups and civil rights advocates.
Proposition 60 is downright dangerous, and widely opposed by the performers it seeks to regulate. I, and other adult performers, have tried to explain that the seemingly progressive measure would open us up to harassment, profiteering, and nearly unlimited lawsuits. That’s because the proposition is not about condoms in adult film, but about one man’s attempt to control adult film performers.
Michael Weinstein, the sole proponent and funder behind Proposition 60, has written a ballot measure that financially incentivizes the private policing of adult film. Proposition 60 gives any California resident the right to sue a performer if a condom isn’t visible in a production. That means anyone with a laptop can sue me and collect 25 percent of any penalties against me — and I’d have to pay their legal fees.
This isn’t public health policy, it’s legalized harassment.
Weinstein likes to paint the picture that all performers are victims but doesn’t acknowledge that we are consenting adults working in a legitimate industry. Our industry is far more diverse than the proponent would like to highlight. We work on studio sets, sure, but we also produce our own content, perform on our own webcams, and profit-share through affiliate links. All of these leave us empowered — and under Proposition 60 liable. A husband and wife who perform solely together must use condoms when shooting or face legal action and fines.
Instead of protecting performers, Proposition 60 further marginalizes an already marginalized community, and plays on the stigma and fear that surrounds adult film performers. A measure that passes because of prejudice is not progress. Not in adult film. Not in any industry or community.
The fact is there has not been an on-set transmission of HIV on a regulated set in over a decade thanks to the 14-day testing protocols developed by performers and medical experts. The industry has never been anti-safe sex, but always pro-option and pro-performer safety. Performers should have the option to use condoms, but it shouldn’t be enforced under threat of a legal action.
The true purpose of Proposition 60 is clear in its language once you look past the guise of safe sex. There is a section in the proposition that shows it is guaranteed to serve one individual — the sole proponent of Proposition 60, Michael Weinstein. It would give him a job as state porn czar, and the power to go after performers himself.
For those of us who know Weinstein, this is frightening. He has a long history of going after adult performers, of filing complaints and lawsuits about the movies we make. Proposition 60 would give him power to overrule state health officials — even the attorney general — in enforcing his proposition.
Most telling, Weinstein has refused to meet with adult film performers about the measure, or even to discuss it with us. We’ve tried to tell him that the proposition will only push the business underground, and out-of-state, where we’ll have fewer protections. We’ve tried to tell him that the enforcement scheme leaves us vulnerable to stalkers and profiteers.
Over 1,000 performers recently signed a petition demanding that he defend the measure publicly, by debating an adult performer. He refused, saying he didn’t need to, since we lacked “any semblance of a real or professional ‘No on 60’ ballot opposition.” It was not only dismissive, it was offensive.
By speaking out on our own behalf, performers have racked up nearly every opposition endorsement there is. Weinstein, on the other hand, has so few that his campaign has been sued multiple times for padding false endorsements. Performers and the No on 60 campaign, on the other hand, have secured the opposition of major state political parties, over two dozen state papers, and countless other advocates. If those endorsements are not “real” or “professional,” I ask that you use your vote to convince him.
Join me and thousands of other performers this November — and vote No on Proposition 60.
Li is an adult film performer.