How to Visit Your Congressmen
There are certain times of the year (such as every August) when your senators or congressman will be in your state for the sake of hearing from you, their constituents. That is always a great time to gather some friends and plan a visit so that you can share with them your support of parental rights.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do just that:
1. Set Up the Meeting.
You may want to gather friends and neighbors to go with you, since having a small crowd is a show of strength. Don’t let your friends’ unavailability stop you, however. A visit by one or two is much better than no visit at all.
Once you’ve identified who’s going with you, call the local office you want to visit. (See this page for how to find your U.S. Congressmen.) Tell them when you would like to come and see if they have a 15-20 minute slot available. If they don’t have availability on the date you wanted, be as flexible as you can in scheduling a different time.
Decide what talking points you want to make, and figure out who in your group will do the best job of making those points. You can make up to 5 or 6 key points, but should keep focal-point speakers to only 1 or 2.
You want to ask your congressman to cosponsor the Parental Rights Amendment. Ask your Senator to contact Sen. Lindsey Graham to become a cosponsor of the Amendment, S.J.Res. 48.
The resources on our printable resource page contain a lot of talking points. Consider sharing Why We Need the Parental Rights Amendment, or present them a copy of Parental Rights: An Issue That Matters to Us All as you highlight one or two of the issues listed there.
You may also want to share some of the stories from our most recent "The State of Parental Rights in America" recap and the Taken Away movie.
3. Show Up.
Gather your group somewhere other than the lawmaker's office (perhaps in the parking lot or a nearby restaurant) so that you can arrive at the office as one cohesive group. Arrive a few (3-10) minutes early, and be prepared to wait patiently. Try to dress nicely, and do not let your group be unruly.
Note: Taking children along is a great idea, but you need to make sure they will not be a distraction. Otherwise, it is better to leave them with a sitter.
4. Make Your Presentation.
You will want to have your points prepared, but also be ready to dialog. It may be worth noting that a 2010 Zogby poll showed that 90.8% of self-identified Independent voters, 92.4% of Democratic voters, and 97.5% of Republican voters agree with the traditional role of parental rights. That’s more than 90% in every party affiliation!
If your lawmaker or his staff have questions, answer those you can. If you don't know an answer, be honest. Tell them, "I don't know the answer to that, but I would be happy to find out and get back to you." We will gladly provide the answers you need, and you will have set up a follow-up opportunity to build rapport with that office.
5. Follow Up.
When you get home (before you have time to forget), write a thank you note and mail it to the office. Thank your lawmaker for taking time to hear your concerns. You might also mention by name helpful staffers you met along the way. Was the receptionist especially hospitable? Or a staff liaison? You might mention her or him by name. They will hear about that, and you might win a friend in that office.
6. Let Us Know.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how your visit went. Please include your lawmaker's name, how many went with you, which issue(s) you touched on, and your opinion of the meeting. (Please keep it brief, though. We are hopeful we will have to read a lot of these!)