Though I agree that gay bathhouses greatly contributed to the rapid spread of AIDS in the gay community, closing them now as the Los Angeles County AIDS Commission has recommended and the San Diego City Council and San Diego County Board of Supervisors have proposed is like calling the Fire Department after the fire has burned down the house.
The problem of AIDS still smolders, but the majority of the people it has most effect on are now taking measures to prevent the spread of the disease by means of "safe sex." This educational campaign has been going on for several years. The information is provided throughout the gay community, at bars, bookstores and even the bathhouses themselves.
The counties would implement regulations requiring the bathhouses to monitor their patrons. The legal theory of regulating the activities is based on the fact that they are "quasi-public" establishments. Therefore, behavior that is legal in private can be regulated or curtailed in the bathhouses. A bathhouse nowadays is a structure that has private rooms for rent. These rooms have a bed and a door that can be locked. So what exactly is "quasi-public?" What about motels and hotels?
I hope AIDS will not always be around, but laws will not get rid of it! Restricting the rights of a few, even for a short time, will ultimately affect the many; we have witnessed this with Hitler's Nuremberg laws.
SCOTT C. STRADLEY