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Pro-family is a code word coined by the religious right. It is a subset of family values and is used by politicians wanting to earn points with the families that they are supposedly for.


What they really mean by this is pro-one particular configuration of the family. It is quite best summed up by the words of Dan Quayle:

Don't forget about the importance of the family. It begins with the family. We're not going to redefine the family. Everybody knows the definition of the family. [Meaningful pause] A child. [Meaningful pause] A mother. [Meaningful pause] A father. There are other arrangements of the family, but that is a family and family values.

Homosexuals, feminists, divorcees, widowed parents, confirmed bachelors, hippy communes, and uppity punk kids disrespecting their elders need not apply, apparently.

Other uses[edit]

This concept is also used, for example, in religious right claims that the "family" is the fundamental unit of society. This can even be found in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which has almost global coverage, where it says that "The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society". [1] This is in opposition to other ideas that perhaps the individual is the fundamental unit and that larger groupings also have a key impact. For example, Hillary Clinton's book It Takes a Village, which focused on individuals outside the family and their effects on how a child is brought up, was met with ire from the religious right. Shortly after the book was released Bob Dole publicly disagreed, stating that "it takes a family to raise a child" and in 2005 Rick Santorum countered the argument with the book It Takes a Family.

See also[edit]


  1. Text of the ICESCR, Article 10(1). Wisely, the Covenant does not say what constitutes a family.