Sellers and activists clash as California moves toward becoming the first state in the union to ban furs.
“I just stocked up for Burning Man,” said Melrose Trading Post vendor Sean Hammond. “During the winter they really sell, too.” He is among many furriers who oppose Democrat Assemblywoman Laura Friedman’s proposed statewide fur prohibition (AB-44).
“There’s going to be a black market, that I can tell you,” predicted Beverly Hills furrier David Appel. “People that want fur get fur, just like people who want marijuana get marijuana.”
Animal rights activists, of course, disdain the notion of such desperation. “If you really want to get [new] fur that bad, go to Vegas,” said Marc Ching, founder of Animal Hope in Legislation — which led to the Los Angeles fur ban and is the driving force behind AB-44. “We’re residents and we know a lot of people here who are against fur.”
But other residents are reluctant to let the traditional vestiges of Hollywood glamour fade. “My parents being from Iran, there is this infatuation with royalty and gold and fur and jewels that still continues to this day in the diaspora,” said Donna Ahdoot. “I enjoy dressing up and feeling regal. I love that part of my heritage.”
Other detractors have claimed that the bill does not address religious, racial, and cultural concerns. By way of example, religious articles worn by Native Americans and Ashkenazi Jews are reportedly exempted, but the fox stoles popular in Persian synagogues and black churches are not.
“What makes their religion more important?” said New Yorker and Broadway press agent Irene Gandy, head of the Coalition for Blacks for Furs in New York. “We go to church, we’re still praying. We have as much right to wear our furs for our faith.”
Pasadena Assemblyman Chris Holden dismissed the complaints, asserting that “to suggest that there’s a cultural connection to this issue trivializes the point,” excusing animal cruelty for culture.
Echoing the sentiment, Animal Hope co-founder Veronica Rafkind weighed in. “Fur animals are not subject to humane slaughter laws,” she said. “[Californians] are supposed to lead when it comes to the inhumane treatment of animals or people or anything. It affects our own humanity, our own ability to empathize with others.”
The state bill has already passed the Assembly with a bipartisan vote in favor. Now it is being considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Thus far, Committee Chairman and Democrat State Sen. Anthony Portantino has declined to comment.