Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, August 15, 2008

Feeling 'Spunky' About Gay Marriage? Select Staffing's CEO does...what was he thinking?

Imagine you are sitting at your desk at work and you get the following email from your CEO -- this may or may not be against the law per se as it involves a proposition and not a partisan candidate or political party. Still, is a request to gather in your company parking lot not electioneering in the workplace? The above image as a PDF attachment(click to enlarge) was one of several allegedly sent with the email below according to a reader who wishes to remain anonymous...

A little background -- Steve Sorenson is the CEO for Select Staffing. The "brother Paul" mentioned in the email is actually his brother who is the President of Select...keep in mind that this is a national staffing company with over 300 offices and franchises across the country.

So, if "you are feeling spunky about it" -- you know where to be tomorrow morning. And, if you think this is homophobia or a violation of election law, you DO have license to say so herein. Most of all, how would your gay and lesbian employees feel after seeing this email?


Santa Barbara Corporate Colleagues:

We have an election coming up!

Those of you who have been with us for a while know that I enjoy sharing my political preferences—along with my political logic—in hopes that I'll stir up some enthusiasm for us all to participate in the process.

This season is no exception! And, as November 4th approaches, you can count on me for my famous (or infamous) voter guide.

HOWEVER—IN ADDITION—this season there is an item on the ballot that is of such great importance that I'm going to be investing significantly more of my personal time and effort to "get out the vote" in a way that will shape the moral climate of our State!


The Proposition is PROPOSITION 8.

The Position I'm promoting is a vote FOR proposition 8 (that's YES on 8).

Proposition 8 creates an Amendment to our State Constitution that clearly defines marriage as a union between a woman and a man.

Opponents of Proposition 8 feel that same sex unions or domestic partnerships should be legitimized by the state.

Select Veterans will recall my enthusiastic effort to pass Proposition 22 back in the year 2000. Proposition 22 also specifically defined marriage to be between a man and a woman, and was designed to preclude state officials from granting State sanction to same sex unions. While slightly controversial (ok—it wound up to be a bit of a firestorm), it turned out we were "on the side of the people" in that one. Prop. 22 passed with a powerful majority.

So why is this controversial topic back? Because our Calilfornia State Supreme Court declared Proposition 22 to be unconstitutional. Those of us who get uptight about this sort of judicial behavior refer to this as "legislating from the bench". The judges see what the people want—but decide they have the power and the duty to deprive them of it. So, in spite of an overwhelming public majority declaring same sex marriage to be "out of bounds", the courts have decided to "let it go". As a result, California is presently one of two States in the United States that is allowing same sex marriage.

Proposition 8 is intended to give the Judges clarity—and establish a firm law that they must enforce. There will be no question. Marriage will be preserved as a union between a woman and a man. Period.

Every once in a while, we get the chance to vote on an issue that will shape the moral foundation of our society. This is one of those chances.

It is SO BIG, that I'm going to do more than just "recommend" you vote in favor of Proposition 8. I'm going to ask you to come join me in a grass roots campaign to support Proposition 8.

I've attached 3 documents that hit the highlights of the issue.

If you feel so inclined, here's how you can get involved: A large group of volunteers are canvassing the Santa Barbara area to identify Prop 8 supporters and help them get out the vote! We'll be meeting this Saturday at 8:30AM in two locations: One group will be meeting right here in our Select parking lot, and one group will be meeting at the San Marcos High School parking lot (that's where Paul and I will be--near the tennis courts).

My brother Paul is heading up many of the efforts in Santa Barbara . If you are interested in coming this Saturday (or any day), please send him an email and he'll ensure that you are signed up!

Of course, this is NOT a requirement of your job. There is no job security risk or reward associated with these efforts.

This is also NOT an invitation to initiate an email campaign of your own—as the owner and C.E.O., I enjoy a few perks of privilege—being able to communicate with you in this fashion is one of them. Please don't use my solicitation as some sort of license to turn our email system into a blog. I've asked our email administrators to help avoid that outcome.

If you aren't registered to vote, we would like to help you get registered. Paul has the materials, and he would be pleased to assist you.

I hope you will vote FOR proposition 8. I hope you will tell your family and friends to vote FOR proposition 8 as well. And if you're feeling spunky about it, I hope you will join us this weekend for our first Precinct Walk and come find out how to get involved!

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Anonymous cannon presidio said...

Hey all. You realize something? Young gay men and women have become the temp employee of choice: no dependents, expendable, under-represented.

This will cost Select money. And I know they have also routinely turned down "out" gays for jobs.

What if you had to give every gay cement mixer and lesbian ballerina a spouses salary and benefits?

Every gay receptionist, journalist, etc every lesbian raconteur.

8/15/2008 8:25 PM  
Anonymous In the old days said...

Back when the News-Press was owned by The New York Times, the United Way was allowed to mount a pretty ambitious campaign for payroll deductions. United Way held a reception at the paper, there were "team captains" and prizes. Employees wondered if management was monitoring who donated and who didn't.

Talk about coercion — United Way had it all over the Teamsters.

8/15/2008 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Times are changin' said...

old days, this post wasn't about the News-Press, but you are clueless if you think the source of "coercion" at the paper is the Teamsters. The union is the only entity with the wherewithal to stand up to overbearing (to put it mildly), dishonest and unethical management. Those newsroom employees voted for and deserve real employment protection, and that's the only way to get it, short of a McCaw departure and an enlightened publisher entering.

As for this electioneering situation, Sorenson is obviously an oinker, but what's interesting is he doesn't even argue why Prop 8 is "good" or gay marriage is "bad". People on his side of the issue never explain -- because they can't -- why gay marriage would threaten hetero marriage. Someone feeling spunky and cavalier about their job ought to start a counter-campaign, just to see if he's true to his word about this effort having nothing to do with job advancement.

8/16/2008 7:41 AM  
Anonymous Don McDermott said...

This is sad news for employees of Select Staffing. To have this broadcast email in any gay employees mailbox would be devastating. Apparently the Sorenson brothers concern for the "shape the moral climate of our State" dismisses so many real moral issues. What is more is if this email was broadcast to every employee and then admonished in advance to "Please don't use my solicitation as some sort of license to turn our email system into a blog" puts this Mr. Sorenson's email in the protagonist category. It reads to me like harassment.

This is a distraction, a political wedge issue developed by nefarious corporate interests to keep the public from discussing legitimate issues of the day with hopes of swinging the whole slate of candidate and ballot measures in the corporate interest favor.

I sincerely feel deep sorrow for any employee at Select who must endure this awful harassment from the CEO of the company.

8/16/2008 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Could be interesting said...

Hmmm..this may negatively impact any contracts he might have with local governmental agencies...state? City? County?
let's see what happens...thanks for the tip, Sara

8/16/2008 11:24 AM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

Select Staffing obviously is owned and run by homophobes. Let their customers respond accordingly.

Smart businesses avoid religion and politics because they have a lot more to lose than gain by appealing to an intolerant niche of employees or customers.

Perhaps the best excuse the employees can use for not showing up as this be-a-bigot rally is that they have to stay home and feed their heterosexual babies and read their fundamentalist books.

Of course, why this is really interesting is that any employee who does not participate in this be-a-bigot rally now has a fully plausible defense for any adverse action the employer enacts later.

Show up late to work or complete your assignments late? Just claim that the termination or discipline or low pay is retaliation for not putting on this show of bigotry!! Any employer who goes to such great lengths to advertise that this is NOT a job requirement really means that it is.

8/16/2008 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Remeber Me? said...

Sorenson is a hardcore Mormon. With 8+ kids, multiple SUV's and a lot of bad boss karma, he's just doing his part for The Church [an investor in Select] to get into heaven. Seriously.
This stuff is par for the course at Select.

8/16/2008 4:31 PM  
Anonymous WiseGuy said...

How does supporting the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman translate into "Select Staffing obviously is owned and run by homophobes"? I love how tolerant liberals are so intolerant when someone has a differing opinion.

8/16/2008 6:48 PM  
Anonymous live and let marry said...

wiseguy, how does overturning the Supreme Court's OK of gay marriage translate into toleration? How is the man/woman definition of marriage harmed by gay marriage? Why should gays be second-class citizens? Yes, liberals are intolerant of intolerance.

8/16/2008 10:17 PM  
Anonymous Content of Their Character said...

Wiseguy is not.

Tolerance is overcoming an initial dislike about someone because of weird tats or a nose ring or a foreign accent.

Homophobic bigotry is denying same-gender couples the LEGAL RIGHT to marry and effing with our State Constitution.

Unfortunately, people like Wiseguy think that equal opportunity and equal rights under the law is somehow a "liberal" vs. "conservative" thang.

8/17/2008 12:37 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

passionate subject matter :) Thanks to all for civility.

Does one's religion matter here as it may shape our decisions?

Just saw "For The Bible Tells Me So" -- great documentary chronicling the Christian experience and sexual orientation. Fascinating stuff.

8/17/2008 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Art said...

At the Rick Warren event last night, one of the biggest applause lines McCain got was for his stand about marriage between a man and a woman, period. Obama went into nuanced detail on the subject (although he, too opposed gay marriage) of civil unions, which wasn't as enthusiastically embraced by the "religious" crowd. Yes, the evangelicals cannot bear to think there are happy people who love each other and want to commit to each other (like Ellen and Portia did yesterday) and care for each other for the rest of their lives. I just can't see how their marriage undermines mine, or anyone elses...

8/17/2008 3:08 PM  
Anonymous tolerain't said...

I happen to support gay marriage, but I can see what wiseguy is saying -- many people who preach tolerance are actually quite intolerant of other people's opinions.

8/17/2008 3:40 PM  
Anonymous Archie Bunker said...

Please explain what is to tolerate about bigotry?

And, is bigotry just another opinion?

Maybe yes if one believes that denial of civil rights based on sexual orientation is just another opinion.

Denial of civil rights for some people is just what Prop. 8 would do. That is not just a political opinion to be tolerated.

8/17/2008 10:08 PM  
Anonymous chupacabra said...

"I believe marriage is between a man and a women and for me as a christian its a sacred union as well"
-B. Obama

Just curious if this makes him a homophobe according to Pritchetts post?

8/18/2008 11:01 AM  
Anonymous JohnD said...

It is interesting to bring this up but we're preaching to the choir here in SB. I come from east of the mountains, where people are yes, bigoted. Reach out beyond Santa Barbara to the others who might vote for prop 8, the Sorenson brothers, bigoted as they are, are reaching out to other bigots. Let's see some organization here or at least some action. Talk to those outside of Santa Barbara and convince at least one person(without calling them a bigot) that gay marriage allows for more human beings to marry, how can that be wrong. Plus, with the budget deficit, we can use the extra income taxes from 2 income males moving into the state.

In addition, if you really hated homosexuals, wouldn't you encourage them to get married?

8/18/2008 5:20 PM  
Anonymous tolerain't said...

archie bunker, thanks for proving my point.

I guess that's the smokescreen liberal people use when they want to be intolerant yet still claim the moral high ground -- just call those who disagree "bigots," and presto, you don't need to tolerate them anymore.

It also works the same way if you're a religious zealot, except you replace the word "bigot" with "pervert" or "sinner."

8/18/2008 7:18 PM  
Anonymous Archie Bunker said...

What we seem to have here is the root of the problem about how some straight people treat gay (LBGTQ) people.

One's innate sexual orientation is not an issue simply to be tolerated like a nose piercing or tattoo or even political party, to use examples noted in a prior comment.

This ballot proposition is about taking away civil rights that the State Supreme Court already has affirmed are indeed civil rights.

The real test of bigotry is whether the person identified as a bigot would affirm or take away the same rights for some people but not others, such as rights based on religion, racial-ethnic background, or sexual orientation.

That is apparently hard for some to understand, but full civil rights -including the legal right adults to be married to the same gender if they want- is not just a personal opinion subject to an opinion poll or ballot proposition.

Denying such civil rights is bigotry, and bigotry should not be tolerated, as would be done by supporting this Proposition 8 on the November ballot.

Calling a bigot a bigot is just the truth, even though those who are properly identified as such otherwise may be nice people. Bigotry is not to be "tolerated" like some personal choice to be polite.

The comments above identifying the employer in this Blogabarbara post as a homophobe or bigot may be harsh language, but it still is accurate language. The really amazing part of the story is that he felt the need to pressure his employees also to display bigotry even though he denied he was pressuring them.

Obviously, people who otherwise are nice and all that, but who still think the civil right of marriage should be denied to gay people, do not want to think of themselves as bigoted or homophobic, but they are.

The truth can hurt sometimes.

Bigotry is not a virtue and lifestyle choice to be tolerated.

8/19/2008 11:16 AM  
Blogger Chino Blanco said...

LDS (Mormon) 'Yes on 8' Game Plan

I've posted a letter sent from Boyd K. Packer on July 28th to the California LDS stake presidents:

BKP July 28

Apparently, there is a plan in place to put up one million 'Yes on 8' yard signs at 7:00 am on September 22nd.

8/20/2008 6:03 AM  
Anonymous JohnD said...

I will refer to you as a bigot proudly. To be intolerant of intolerance is fine, to proudly support it is not fine. I want to allow more people more freedom, you want to restrict freedom based on if that person likes a certain gender or not ie their preferences. You restrict, I want to unrestrict, and yes you're a bigot, and I don't expect you to be happy with the truth.

8/20/2008 9:37 AM  
Anonymous tolerain't said...

Replace "bigot" and "bigotry" with "sinner" and "perversion" in archie bunker's latest post, and it could have come from Fred Phelps.

You're such an intolerant zealot you can't even see you're the mirror image of the people you hate.

8/21/2008 10:20 PM  
Blogger Steve said...


Hi it’s Steve Sorensen here! Since my email to our valued employees showed up on your blog, I hope you don’t mind if I respond…

I am a thirteen year resident of Santa Barbara and, as you point out, I am the Chairman and C.E.O. of Select. Select is a company founded by my family—specifically my father-in-law and sister-in-law. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with many talented individuals in building Select into a $1.5 billion staffing service which provides a fast “value add” way for employers to find employees and vice versa. I note a few derogative comments on the blog about “temps”. Since the topic is Proposition 8 rather than the benefits of staffing to the economy—I won’t debate the issue here. But, I will note that we found a job for over 300,000 people last year.

And yes, undoubtedly we have valued recruiters among our 1,500 trusted employees who are gay or lesbian. Without question, many of the people for whom we have found jobs are gay or lesbian. I don’t have specific statistics because we don’t attempt to identify sexual preference. I mention it because contrary to what is suggested by your posting—I am not “anti-gay”. In fact, I appreciate the tireless and talented effort offered up by our gay and lesbian colleagues and temporary associates. Furthermore, I am not mounting an effort to reverse domestic partnership rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, probate rights, etc.

However, I am very “pro-family”! And I feel a strong moral duty to promote traditional family values.

Notwithstanding our business successes, my greatest accomplishment in life—without qualification—is the joyous and fruitful 26 years I’ve achieved in successful marriage to my wife Shannon. Together, we’ve been blessed with 8 wonderful children. And as a family we share a love that brings harmony, satisfaction and prosperity.

Indeed whatever successes in life I may have achieved so far, including any economic, educational, and spiritual achievements, have primarily been made possible by the love and support of either my wonderful wife and children or my incredible parents or my wife’s incredible parents.

I believe every child deserves a mother and a father. I realize this may not be achievable in all circumstances. But it is the ideal. The love of a mother and the love of a father are each unique, powerful, and sacred. To suggest a child will not benefit from both, or does not need both, is beyond the dictates of my conscience.

There is an old adage which states blood is thicker than water. Blood relations carry a powerful genetic and spiritual link which cannot be denied—and cannot be replicated without a man and a woman.

I feel strongly that it is our duty as citizens to make sure our common law reflects this ideal. And I feel strongly that we cannot allow those who put their own interests above the interests of children to obfuscate what is ideal.

Proposition 8 assures clarity. If it passes, our public school curriculum will be protected from having to be modified to teach something other than the ideal. Our churches—including mine—will be protected from being forced to consummate gay or lesbian marriages. Our civil practices will be protected from confusion. Most importantly, as a society, we will maintain the strength to direct our citizens towards a code of conduct that assures the sanctity of our families.

Society benefits from having the correct goal or ideal to aspire to: Family with a Mom and a Dad. I try every day to reach my potential as a father, as a son, and as a husband to my beautiful wife. I want us, as a society, to strive to maintain these ideals.

In closing, your charges of “electioneering” seem somewhat heavy-handed. Have you also taken Pacific Gas and Electric to task for their $250,000 contribution and official endorsement of No on Prop. 8? Or McDonalds for their large donation and press release? I hope not. I cherish free speech. I cherish my right to speak out. And I cherish my ability to do my part to influence public opinion. I also respect and cherish yours, and PG&E’s and McDonald’s! I hope we can discuss and debate this important issue as fellow citizens and stakeholders in the future of our great country.

9/25/2008 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Harassed Lesbian Employee said...

Hi Sara,

I just started as a temp employee (through Select Staffing) at the University were I attained my Master's degree. Yesterday, I received the email with Steve's reply to your blog.

To say I was horrified is an understatement. This is really the first time I have ever felt discrimination because of my sexual orientation (I actively surround myself with accepting, loving people). This is overt workplace discrimination and he should be ashamed of himself. I will be vocal to my superiors at the University and other possible temp employees about not doing business with Select Staffing. It's a shame that people don't understand that this proposition is about equal rights and only equal rights. My girlfriend and I are volunteering at the polls (100 feet away!) all day tomorrow :) Go NO ON 8!

11/04/2008 1:53 AM  
Anonymous Unacceptable said...

I have a part time job through Select Staffing at USC and was shocked and offended to received this email from Mr. Sorensen. I am not gay, but am a big advocate of tolerance. The CEO's email was a shameless attempt to pressure and persuade the votes of this company's employees. This email not only represents a deeply unethical use of power but also exhibits strong discrimination against the company's gay employees. It is unacceptable.

I hope this unethical action encourages those who use Select Staffing to consider using a different company for their staffing services.

11/05/2008 1:54 PM  

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