Put your letter on leterhead if you have it.  Show that you represent an organization,
denomination or some constituency.  Or, make it personal.  Short is better than
long. 

######################
Dear Members of the California State Assembly, Committee on Judiciary:
 
I urge you to support AB 1236, the "Marriage Choice Act of 2005", when
it comes before you for a hearing this Tuesday, April 26.
 
Divorce has become a social epidemic in our country, with consequences
cascading way beyond the personal pain of the individuals involved--impacting
their health and productivity, and thus our states economy, and with many
devastating and well-documented effects on their children.  Yet, this is to a
very great extent, an avoidable epidemic.
 
Divorce is readily preventable if people learn the skills that have been shown
to correlate with marital success.  Rather than rushing to divorce, we need to
educate the public that quality Marriage Education programs are available and
easily accessible, and that these programs will teach them how to create and
maintain a long-lasting and satisfying marriage.  Marriage Education is strongly
correlated with marital success and a cost-effective alternative to pain and
frustration, and one that saves families--society's most foundational institution.
 
I ask you to give this bill your serious consideration.
 
Best regards,
 
Patty Howell, Ed.M., A.G.C.

####################
Or, on a more personal note: \

Dear Members of the California State Assembly, Committee on Judiciary;

I urge you to support AB 1236, the "Marriage Choice Act of 2005", when it comes
before you for a hearing this Tuesday, April 26. 

I was married on June 5, 2002.  Nine years later my wife filed for divorce; six months
later the divorce was finalized.  Once she filed, there was nothing I could do to stop it --
my marriage was over.  And what is sad is that we really loved each other (and probably
still do).  If we had been able to get the kind of help that Assemblyman DeVore's bill
will make available, I KNOW our marriage could have been saved.  And that's really
what we both wanted.  We didn't get divorced because we "wanted to"; my ex-wife
filed for divorce out of desperation.  But once we started down "the path to divorce",
neither one of us knew how to stop it.  But it's like somebody who uses a parachute to
jump out of a plane when the engines fail - they don't "want to" - they just don't see any
other alternatives.  But guess what?  Alternatives are now available!  In the past 14 years
I have done a lot of research on this subject and have come across six different programs
that have over an 80% success rate in turning around even the most troubled of marriages --
these programs allow couples who are struggling to create the type of marriage they wanted
to have when they pledged to be husband and wife.  And AB 1236 will allow thousands
of California couples who are struggling in their marriages to access these types of programs --
and to create happy marriages as a result.  This is a good bill, and it needs and deserves
your serious consideration.

Sam Jones
######################

Here is an example of how to write a rousing "call to action" among members of your group or constituency"

Dear Members of the OC Marriage Newslist;

This is a call to action.  Please take it seriously!

I am asking each and every one of you to do two things:
#1) Take three minutes and compose a brief e-mail in support of California State Assembly Bill AB 1236 - the "Marriage Choice Act of 2005" and send it to the following nine people (note, you can copy and paste their e-mail addresses directly into the "Send To" box of your e-mail program):

Assemblymember.Evans@Assembly.ca.gov,
Assemblymember.Jones@Assembly.ca.gov, Assemblymember.Harman@Assembly.ca.gov, Assemblymember.Haynes@Assembly.ca.gov, Assemblymember.Laird@Assembly.ca.gov, Assemblymember.Leslie@Assembly.ca.gov, Assemblymember.Levine@Assembly.ca.gov, Assemblymember.Lieber@Assembly.ca.gov, Assemblymember.Montanez@Assembly.ca.gov

#2) Please forward this e-mail to everyone in your address book, asking them to do both things (send an e-mail to the above nine people and forward this on to everyone in their address book.)

If everyone who is on this newslist does these two things, we will be on our way to creating a brand new chapter in the history and future for marriages here in California!

And now, let me answer the following questions that you must have:
A) Who are these nine people and why are they important to contact about this?
B) What is "California State Assembly Bill 1236 - the Marriage Choice Act of 2005?"
C) What should I say in my e-mail?

Question & Answer "A" - Who are these nine people and why are they important to contact about this?" - These nine people make up the "California State Assembly - Committee on Judiciary".  They are "the  gatekeepers" who decide which bills actually make it to the Assembly Floor to be debated and voted upon by the entire Assembly.  This coming Tuesday morning (April 26) they are scheduled to hear testimony about a promising bill (AB 1236 "the Marriage Choice Act of 2005") which was introduced by Orange County Assemblyman, Chuck DeVore.  Right now, it is expected that this bill will die in committee - however, if enough of us act within the next 100 hours (between now and Monday evening) - this very important issue will receive the hearing that it so rightly deserves. 

Question and Answer "B" - "What is California State Assembly Bill 1236 - the Marriage Choice Act of 2005?" First of all, I have attached a pdf file of the bill to this e-mail so that you can each read it for yourself and decide whether or not this is something that you will want to support.  (Trust me - the answer is very likely to be "YES!" for anybody on the OC Marriage newslist!!!!) In a nutshell it provides for couples who are getting married to choose one of two options when they get married:
Option A - the current option where either party can file for "no-fault" divorce and receive a divorce after only a 6-month waiting period;
Option B - a new option that provides for a 2-year period of "marriage rehabilitation" (my term) before a divorce can be finalized (this 2-year term can be reduced for any of several conditions, all of which are spelled out in the bill).  In other words, it provides an opportunity for couples who are experiencing marital difficulties to access the help they need to rebuild their marriage.

Let's face it - nobody ever "chooses" to get a divorce - people only get divorced because they don't see any way to be happily married.  Divorce is ALWAYS an act of desperation - a "lesser of two evils".  But with our current "no-fault divorce" (which is more accurately described as "unilateral divorce") there are few avenues available for couples who are struggling to "call a time-out" and work on actually re-building their marriage into the type of marriage that they both envisioned when they got married. 

But as any long-term subscribers to the OC Marriage newslist know, there are LOTS of resources now available to rebuild struggling marriages.  (For current examples, please visit the "Troubled Marriages" section of the www.OCMarriage.org website ).  In fact, in the research I have conducted over the last few years I have discovered six different programs that have over an 80% success rate in turning around even the most seriously troubled marriages.  (And surprise, surprise, three of those programs are now available in Orange County!!!)

So this bill will make it much easier for couples who need help in rebuilding their marriages to access that help.

Question and Answer "C" - "What should I say in my e-mail?" Your e-mail can be as long or as short as you would like.  A "short version" could simply say "Please support AB 1236 - the "Marriage Choice Act of 2005" - along with your name, address, and phone number.  (E-mails without addresses included are typically not read by Legislators);  A "medium version" could include a short explanation as to why you want them to support it.  Sample "short explanations" could be:
- "because marriages are the foundation of our society";
- "for the sake of the children"
- "because every marriage deserves a second chance";
- "because I believe in marriage"
- "because most highly troubled marriages can be turned around"
- "to save millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars caused by families going on welfare because of unnecessary and preventable divorces"
- "because I (or a friend, neighbor or relative) went through a divorce and it was the most painful experience I (or they) have ever gone through"
- "because most divorces are preventable"
- "because nobody ever really "chooses" to get divorced"
- "because God hates divorce"

A longer version could also include a "personal story" of someone you know who has gone through an unwanted divorce, and how they wish divorce had been avoided.   As one example, I have included my own "longer version" of the e-mail that I actually sent earlier today - underneath the signature line of this e-mail.

PLEASE JOIN ME IN THIS E-MAIL CAMPAIGN - BOTH BY SENDING YOUR OWN E-MAILS AND BY ENCOURAGING EVERYONE ELSE YOU KNOW TO DO THE SAME.

TOGETHER, WE REALLY CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!!

Dennis Stoica
Orange County Marriage Resource Center
www.OCMarriage.org
(note - a copy of the e-mail I sent is provided below, simply as one example of a "longer version")