Here are simple instructions on how to contact your Member of Congress with example letters. You can use as much or as little as you wish. If you make a visit please let us know so we can post the info under your State.
How do I find my member of Congress and their office?
You can check the House of Representative Web Site or the Senate Site, they have complete listings. Most of the sites include local office information. If you are still not sure who it is, just call the Town Clerk, or County Clerk for your area — they should be able to give you that information.
Do I need an appointment?
No, visitors are welcome. But it does help to call ahead and schedule a time to meet with one of your representatives: “Hi, my name is Kelly Doe, I’m a member of a parent’s group. I would like to get Senator Tracy’s help in getting some Civil Right’s legislation passed in Congress. Is there a time when I can stop by for a brief meeting…”
I don’t feel comfortable going alone, can someone come with me?
Yes. If you are interested, please fill out our contact form. We will try to get someone else to link up with you.
What do I say when I go into the office?
You are not trying to “impress” them with your knowledge, just let them know how important it is to you. Here are some examples, you can do as little or as much as you like.
“Hi, my name is Mary Smith, and this is Bill Jones. We are both local parents who are part of a National Group looking for Family Law Reform. Sorry we don’t have an appointment, but is there anyone here we could talk to briefly today?” [usually a staff assistant should have a few moments to spend with you. If they don’t have time, you might ask for an appointment and work out a convenient time. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them more, please pass the info on to us, and someone else from the group will contact them.]
“We have some material we would like to leave.” [You can give them a copy of the Family Rights Act, just print it out from the website — if you can, take the time to generate a personal cover letter — here is an example. It doesn’t have to by typed, hand written is fine!]
What DON’T I say?
Remember what our goal and approach is. The issue is “CIVIL RIGHTS FOR FAMILIES.” It’s the right of parents & children to be together, it is our desire to be with our children — who can argue with that? Keep away from personal attacks on Judges, Lawyers, Child Protective Services, Child Support, the “Divorce Industry”, etc…. This is not to say some of the points may not be valid — but just that they distract from the primary message. Do NOT argue with them. Do NOT accuse them of not caring!
What can I expect them to say?
“This isn’t not an issue for Congress. Family Law has traditionally been done by the States. Separation of powers…” — Explain this is about Civil Rights, the rights of parents and children to be together. Very similar to slaves winning their freedom, or women winning the right to vote. They should agree a “Civil Rights” cause should be addressed by Congress.
- “We can’t control State Laws...” — The Federal government already ties funding for Social Programs to encourage the States to either change existing or adopt new laws.
“Lower courts have already decided on this, it’s an item for the Judiciary to decide” — Again explain that in the early 1800’s, U.S. Courts had held, including the US Supreme Court, that Slaves were “property”. In 1900’s Courts had ruled that women did NOT have the right to vote — again, the issue was one of Civil Rights.
“We haven’t had a lot of interest in this type of legislation” — NO ONE had ever been to that office in over 8 years asking about Family Law Reform, we were the first. We told them we were going to try to create interest by getting folks to contact their representatives.
“If a bill was introduced, it would be handled by the Judiciary Committee, and Ms. X isn’t on that committee — you should contact them” –Tell them that Ms. X is our representative, the person we VOTED for to represent our interests. She could certainly introduce a Bill and contact the Judiciary committee members herself is she had a strong interest…
“What would you like us to do” — As our representative we’d like them to review the issue and call for Congressional Hearings into recognizing and protecting Family Rights. We want mothers and fathers to be able to testify before Congress.
What do I do afterwards?
Congratulate yourself! You will feel good, for you have made a difference for yourself and others. Then, please send us email so we can update the web site.