Sexual rights are a family value
With all this talk about defining progressive values as what they are--values--I thought it might be helpful to consider how progressive values are the true family values. "Family values" is code for patriarchy in conservative-speak (god, can they say anything in a straightforward manner), but when progressives talk about family values we can address how our values help actual families. So let's start by talking about how sexual freedom and reproductive rights are family values.
The political discussion about sex and birth control has been really lopsided. Conservatives advance the idea that sex and birth control are bad, and they manage to avoid offense by keeping the discussion on who shouldn't be having sex--kids, poor people, gays, pick your scapegoat. Liberals, on the other hand, refuse to tar themselves as hedonists by pointing out that sex is good, and instead prefer to talk about people having sex and needing birth control as an unfortunate fact that is unavoidable. But sex is good! Family life depends on it.
For all the squawking about gay marriage and whatnot, people have gotten fuzzy on the two biggest things that are chipping away at actual marriage in this country. Yep, the two biggest things that couples fight about are sex and money. Other people can deal with the money thing, or I can later, but we have the ability, as a country, to help so many of the sexual problems that cause tension and eventual divorce for so many couples in this country.
To begin with, every person in this country should have comprehensive sex education as part of his/her education. The debates over sex ed focus exclusively on whether or not it reduces the numbers of kids who have sex, which is how the conservatives want to keep it. But what you learn about sex as a young person stays with you your entire life and will be incorporated into all your relationships, including any marriage you might make. How much strife in people's lives could be avoided if they had less embarrassment and more knowledge about sex so that they could discuss issues that came up in their relationships without resorting to misinformation and false stereotyping? A few classes in high school dedicated to quelling misinformation that even most adults have could do a lot of good for those students in their future marriages.
Access to birth control and abortion are also major issues for someone who has a mind towards lowering the divorce rate and keeping marriage healthy. Most of the people I speak with who think it's no big deal if birth control and abortion are restricted just laugh it off and say that women can just abstain from sex if they don't want babies. This attitude always puzzles me, because these men who tell me this are usually straight and presumably are indulging their male birthright of sexual fulfillment with a woman who would have to become one of the abstainers if birth control is taken away. (Well, not always--the more that a man is able and willing to have more children, I've noticed, the more likely he will be blase about birth control rights. What doesn't apply to us seems so unimportant.)
All of that was a roundabout way of saying that restricting fecundity is a necessary part of keeping most relationships happy. Being able to bond sexually without being haunted by the fear of having unwanted children is important to harmony between a couple. And while few people are willing to admit it, having unplanned children can do untold damage to relationships. My boyfriend and I are a good couple, the society-stabilizing, house-buying kind that politicians salivate over. (Granted, we're not married, but that's a small thing.) If I had to have a baby that I didn't want, that would probably be the end of him and me, though. To those who value steady, stable marriages and near-marriages in our society, you should also value the right of people to make their reproductive choices for themselves. Because most people make those choices with an eye towards keeping family life happy above all else.