Visit Your Members of Congress
Face to face meetings with your members of Congress, at their home offices, provide a great opportunity to explain why repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is so critical for their constituents. Plus, in-district meetings save you the hassle of traveling to DC!
Follow the steps below to schedule a visit with your members of Congress. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at any point throughout the process.
1. Find Your Members of Congress
Click here to find your U.S. Representative and two Senators' closest offices. If your Representative is already a cosponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1283), we encourage you to focus on meeting with your Senators. Click here to see if your Senators are already cosponsors of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (S. 3065).
2. Assemble a Team
It is often best to gather a small group of people to accompany you on your visit. When building your team, you should seek out fellow constituents who, if possible, represent a diverse group of individuals.
3. Call the Office
When you call the office closest to you, ask for the scheduler. Tell him/her that you are a constituent and would like to schedule a face to face meeting with the member of Congress to discuss "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
The scheduler will probably require a fax or an email request from you to schedule the meeting.
Download a sample meeting request letter here: [PDF Version | Microsoft Word Version].
It is easiest to schedule meetings on Mondays and Fridays, when Members are often home, or during Congressional recesses. Upcoming Congressional recesses:
| Senate Recesses
|| House Recesses
|May 31 - June 4, 2010|| May 31 - June 7, 2010
|July 5 - July 9, 2010|| July 5 - July 12, 2010
|August 9 - September 10, 2010|| August 9 - September 13, 2010
| TBD Adjournment Date
|| October 11 - December 31, 2010
If you do not hear back from the scheduler within a few days, we encourage you to follow up again by phone. It sometimes takes a few attempts to confirm a meeting -- so be persistent!
4. Your Legislator Can't Meet?
If the scheduler absolutely cannot schedule a meeting with the member of Congress, ask to meet with the District Director or, if there isn't one, the regional or office director. That said, it it more important and effective to meet with the Member him or herself rather than meet sooner with staff. So, we encourage you to insist on meeting with your Senator or Representative even if you need to wait a month or more.
5. Prepare for Your Meeting
Before your meeting, you'll want to make sure that you're completely prepared. With that in mind, we encourage you to download our guide to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" for a short and sweet, yet comprehensive, overview of the issue.
You should also spend some time researching the person with whom you're meeting. What are the Member's positions on LGBT and other key issues? This basic information will help you to understand their perspective and what might move them to support repeal.
Click here for tips to keep in mind during the meeting.
6. Follow-Up for Success
To stand out from the dozens of advocates who visit a congressional office in a typical week, be sure to follow up immediately after your visit. Asking to meet with a Member or staffer again is just one way to extend the value of your visit. Email a thank-you letter to the staffer you meet with immediately after your visit. Were questions asked that required information not available during the visit? Include the requested information in the letter. If you took pictures, include them too. You can send other information, fact sheets, and news clips throughout the year. The keys are communicating and delivering useful information. You have an excellent opportunity to develop a closer, more significant relationship with the staffer or Member.
7. Report Your Results!
Finally, it is essential that you report the results of your meeting. Be sure to let us know how it went! This information will bolster our advocacy efforts and take us one step closer to getting rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" once and for all.
Click here to complete the report form.