Annie Gabillet: 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. 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.
Both Barack and Michelle have worked hard to strengthen other American families with initiatives that focus on families and children. With Let’s Move!, Michelle Obama put herself and her dance moves out there to encourage parents to make good choices about family health and nutrition. With My Brother’s Keeper, a program launched in 2014, the president made efforts to encourage responsible fatherhood and close opportunity gaps faced by young men of color. And with Let Girls Learn, Michelle took the cause global, stressing that girls’ education is about more than gender equality: it’s essential to economic development. Again, the first couple is putting family values into action. We don’t hear much about family values anymore, but we have seen them on display during the Obama White House. I credit the Obamas and their actions for reminding us what family values really look like.