California Democrats Lorena Gonzalez And Cristina Garcia Introduce Bill Forcing Sex Workers To Obtain Business Licenses And Be Fingerprinted Before Performing In Adult Films
Earlier this week, California state assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez and Cristina Garcia introduced assembly bill AB-2389, otherwise known as “Adult Performers: Employment Rights,” but the proposed legislation would actually do nothing to protect adult performers or their rights. In fact, it would do the exact opposite.
Under Gonzalez and Garcia’s bill, all sex workers living in California would be forced to obtain business licenses from the state before performing in films, scenes, webcam shows, or the creation of their own amateur videos. Sex workers would also be required to undergo state-run training programs in order to obtain their business licenses, which will include Live Scan fingerprinting as part of completing the training. Studios, which are referred to as “employers” in the bill, would be required to keep a copy of the performer’s certificate of training, and the performer “shall present it to the local business license issuing authority or the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement upon demand.”
Forcing self-employed individuals (as most sex workers are) to obtain business licenses requiring fingerprinting and present training certificates “upon demand” is as non-enforceable (who’s going to monitor every single California sex worker performing webcam shows or making amateur clips inside their own homes?) as it is a blatant invasion of privacy, but Garcia and Gonzalez (both of whom are Democrats, representing parts of Los Angeles and San Diego counties, respectively) introduced the bill to fellow California lawmakers this week, and it’s expected to be heard by the rules committee next month. From there, it’ll go through the legislative process in the California state Senate and Assembly before being voted on by both houses and, if passed, eventually signed into law by the governor.
In a bizarre twist, XBIZ reported today that a so-called “union” representing straight porn actors, the International Entertainment Adult Union (IEAU), is the one who actually drafted the legislation and brought it to assemblywoman Garcia, but the Garcia staff member who spoke to XBIZ “had no familiarity with sex worker organizations.” XBIZ also reported that “no sex worker groups were contacted by Garcia” before the bill was proposed.
On the gay side of the industry, porn star and producer Trenton Ducati has been speaking out against AB-2389 throughout the day:;
One of the bill’s sponsors, Lorena Gonzalez, is already well known in the state for passing disastrous legislation that harms self-employed workers, as Gonzalez is the California lawmaker responsible for the horrific AB-5. AB-5, which became law this year, prevents companies from hiring freelance and “gig” workers without classifying them as employees (something many companies that rely on freelancers simply won’t do), in effect making it literally impossible for independent contractors to find work.
Workers and companies throughout the state have already filed lawsuits and launched petitions to overturn AB-5 (I signed a petition just last week), and if anti-sex worker AB-2389 becomes law, it’ll undoubtedly face the same pushback. In the meantime, contact assemblywomen Garcia (who, in 2018, was removed from her committee posts after being accused of sexual harassment and “stroking a staff member’s buttocks,” as well as calling staff members “faggots and homos”) and Gonzalez to voice your concerns. And, obviously, if you live in their California districts (Garcia represents the 58th; Gonzalez the 80th), be sure to vote them out of office this November.
In terms of why Gonzalez and Garcia introduced the bill, singling out easy targets like sex workers is a common practice among so-called “liberal” lawmakers (remember Democrat Isadore Hall’s failed “mandatory condom” bill?), but it appears one key motivation behind AB-2389 is, what else, money. In the text of the bill, Gonzalez and Garcia accuse sex workers of not paying taxes (although, there’s no proof of this anywhere in the bill), so it’s clear that, in addition to making it harder for sex workers to perform their jobs, AB-2389 will be one more way for the state to ensure they’re collecting on tax-burdened Californians who are self-employed (and the self-employed are already in a higher tax bracket than most corporations and millionaires).
Here’s the bill’s relevant text regarding taxes, which demonizes sex workers by accusing them, without any evidence, of not paying taxes:
(g) The avoidance of tax payments has historically occurred in the adult entertainment industry with the absence of regulations and permits.
The companies that sex workers perform for already have permits and licenses, and those companies already submit reports (W-2s, 1099s, etc.) for the sex workers who work for them. So, Gonzalez and Garcia’s anti-sex worker bill is no different than, say, a bill forcing waitresses to obtain business licenses and be fingerprinted by the state before working at a restaurant. In other words: completely insane.
Read the full text of AB-2389 here.