Bills Tackle Condoms, HIV Disclosure
In coming weeks state lawmakers will be debating the usage of condoms on porn sets and as evidence in prostitution cases. Focus will also be paid to the taxation of extra pay some LGBT workers receive.
And attention will be turned to relaxing California’s HIV confidentiality and data sharing laws for a subset of people enrolled in the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program who will be transitioned to Medi-Cal or Covered California, the health insurance exchange created by the federal Affordable Care Act.
Two bills certain to receive widespread attention this year relate to condoms.
Assembly Bill 336, introduced by gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), would prohibit police and prosecutors from using possession of one or more condoms as a factor in arresting and prosecuting suspects alleged to be engaged in prostitution. Health officials and sex worker advocates have long complained that using prophylactics as evidence in prostitution cases results is bad public health policy and puts both sex workers and their clients at risk of contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.
"We have to encourage safe-sex practices, not frighten people into spreading disease," stated Ammiano in a release about the bill.
Following coverage of the issue by the Bay Area Reporter last year, law enforcement professionals in San Francisco instituted a moratorium on using condom possession in prostitution cases. The policy is set to expire in April but could be made permanent after a review by the police and district attorney.
The second condom bill, AB 332, would require condom use in all adult films - both gay and straight - produced in California. Assemblyman Isadore Hall, III (D-Los Angeles) is the lead author of the bill, which is being backed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
It would make statewide a policy Los Angeles County voters passed in November that requires the use of condoms in explicit adult films produced within L.A. county.
"When it comes down to it, adult film actors are employees, like any other employee for any other business in the state," stated Hall. "We have an obligation to ensure that all workers, regardless of the type of work, are protected from workplace hazards and injury. AB 332 will give these actors a proven way to prevent the spread of disease while creating a safer workplace for actors throughout this growing industry."
If adopted by state lawmakers, the bill likely would have little to no impact on the production of gay porn featuring condomless sex, known as barebacking, as most producers would simply relocate production out of state.
Writing about the bill last week, the website thesword.com noted that most gay porn companies making bareback videos have either opened satellite offices in or decamped to other states such as Florida "where bareback productions are on the rise."
DP tax relief
Freshman lawmaker Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) is the lead author of legislation that would provide fiscal relief to same-sex couples who are hit with increased tax bills due to healthcare benefits.
When one partner adds the other to their employer provided health insurance plan, they incur a tax penalty because the Internal Revenue Service treats any employer contributions for a same-sex partner’s or spouses’ health insurance premiums as taxable income. Heterosexual couples do not face a similar tax hike, but LGBT couples do because under the Defense of Marriage Act the federal government is barred from recognizing their marriage or partnership.
In recent years a number of companies - such as Google, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, and Facebook - have turned to what is known as "grossing up" the pay of their LGBT employees to offset their tax bill. San Francisco is set to become only the third city in the nation to provide similar relief to its public employees with same-sex partners covered on their health plans under legislation by Supervisor Mark Farrell.
Since California provides same-sex couples in registered domestic partnerships or marriages the same rights as heterosexual married couples, the state does not impose a tax on the health benefits. It does, however, tax the "grossed up" pay employers provide to their LGBT workers.