If you've read through some or all of this Social Issues content and you're wondering how you can make a difference for your family — for your values — for your community, look no further.
We've assembled some of the easiest ways you can get involved, keep updated on the issues that matter to your family and make your voice heard.
And if this Social Issues information has inspired you to make a difference — whether at your local PTA meeting, by calling a legislator or sharing your views on the issues that impact families — please take a few moments to let us know. We'd love to hear your stories of engaging the culture and making a difference in your sphere of influence! Just send us an email.
For additional ways you can make a difference, continue through the "Making a Difference" articles. You'll find tips for contacting your legislators, testifying before a legislative committee and examples to guide you.
Do you feel hesitant or unprepared when you're asked or want to call your lawmakers on a big issue? You're not alone. It's normal to feel nervous the first few times you contact your U.S. representative or senators. We want to make the process as smooth as possible. We've been helping people connect with their elected officials for a long time.
So, here are some tips for when you receive an "action alert" in your email or hear about an issue on which you want to make your voice heard.
We know it takes courage to reach out and connect with Capitol Hill or your state legislature. But the more you practice, the easier it will get. To those of you who regularly take action on family issues, thank you. To those of you are new to this challenge: take heart! Your lawmakers work for you, and they need to hear your voices.
If you've never contacted your elected officials, give it a try today. If you'd rather e-mail your lawmakers, we can help with that, too. However you choose to take action, remember these steps: be concise, be confident, and be courteous.
We know it can be overwhelming to email your legislators, whether state or federal, for the first time. That's why we've prepared these practical tips to help you make a difference when a family issue comes up in your state legislature or in Congress.
Following these rules of thumb will help you communicate with your elected officials in support of your family and family values:
See a sample email to your legislator.
When emailing your legislator, federal or state, you can use the following sample to construct a clear, concise message about the legislation you'd like your representative or senator to support (or oppose) on behalf of your family or your values.
We are residents of (your town's name) and are voters in your district. We are concerned with the implications of (bill number) if passed. While we understand that there is concern that our state's Constitution is crowded with things better dealt with through statutes, petitioning our government is a time-honored right that our Founding Fathers included in the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And for over 100 years the people of (your state's name) have enjoyed this cherished right despite repeated efforts by the Legislature and the courts to limit those rights.
(Bill number) will significantly impact citizens' rights to petition our government via the citizen-initiative amendment process. Only one other state (Florida) has the proposed 60 percent threshold to pass a constitutional amendment. According to Ballotpedia, "As a practical matter, it is considered nearly impossible to meet the ballot qualification standards in Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Oklahoma. In recent years, additional hurdles of also been enacted in Florida, Montana and Nebraska (http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Amending_state_constitutions). If our state accepts these changes, we will join that list.
Because of this, we firmly believe that (bill number) will harm our state, and respectfully ask you to vote No on (bill number).
John and Jane Doe
1234 Main Street
Anytown, USA 12345
In some circumstances, you could be asked or volunteer to provide testimony about a piece of legislation about which you have expert knowledge or experience that may influence legislators' votes on the bill. Here are some practical tips for how to provide testimony.
View a sample testimony.
Senator John Doe, Chair
Senator Jane Do, Vice Chair (if known)
From: (your name)
Date: (date of your testimony)
Subject: Support/opposition for (bill number), (name or description of the bill) - for example: Support for SJR 3, the state marriage amendment
My name is (your name), and I live at (your address).
I am here today to express my support for SJR 3, which would allow the people of our state the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage.
The failure of the legislature up to this point to pass a marriage amendment has denied the people of our state the opportunity to vote on this issue.
States that lack constitutional protection are already seeing threats to freedom. For example, a United Methodist camp meeting association in Ocean Grove, N.J., recently lost part of its tax exempt status because it denied two lesbians use of its wedding pavilion for a “civil union” ceremony. And in Massachusetts, Catholic Charities, the largest non-profit adoption agency in the state, was forced out of the adoption ministry because it would not comply with the state’s demand that it place children with homosexual couples.
One argument we hear from those opposed to this amendment is our state already has a Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, so there is no reason to define marriage in the constitution. But our DOMA, just like similar laws in other states, is one only court decision away from being invalidated. In Iowa, this is precisely what happened when their legislature refused to send a marriage amendment to the voters.
The only way citizens can protect the definition of marriage -- one man and one woman -- is at the ballot box, just as citizens in 31 other states have done.
Fortunately, you have another opportunity this year to pass the marriage amendment to allow the people to vote on marriage.
Because of this, I firmly believe that we, the voters, should decide the definition of marriage for our state and respectfully ask you to vote yes on SJR 3.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify.