How the Obamas Taught Us What Family Values Really Mean

I came of political age during an era of “family values.” I cast my first vote for president of the United States in 2004, the year so-called values voters helped pass laws banning same-sex marriage in 11 states. In the political language of the time, family values meant opposing gay marriage, opposing abortion, opposing stem cell research, and emphasizing the role of Christianity in American life.

Many politicians publicly position themselves as respectable public servants who put God and the traditional family first — especially after President Bill Clinton’s sex scandal in the late ’90s. But over the last seven years, we’ve witnessed a president who showed us what family values really look like, rather than tell us in campaign commercials.

In President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, we’ve witnessed a consistent example of mutual love and respect that’s both practical and inspiring. They invited Michelle’s mother, Marian Robinson, to live with them in the White House for their daughters’ benefit, and they show public displays of affection when many political couples seem more like business partners. They are also relatable. In 2011, the first lady shared her advice for a happy marriage with Oprah:

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