Inauguration: Barack Obama calls on Americans to unite

[B]Speaking before a crowd of hundreds of thousands of spectators gathered at the Capitol, US President Barack Obama used his inaugural address on Monday to urge Americans to unite and seize the country’s “limitless” possibilities.[/B]

Obama issued a plea for political unity while embracing liberal causes such as immigration reform, gay rights and the fight against climate change.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, along with dozens of senators, congressional leaders and other dignitaries, attended the event.

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law–-for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” Obama said.

Obama also made references to gun violence, equal pay for women and immigration reform. He called for “all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown” to be kept safe from harm.

In an era of congressional deadlock, the president said Americans must make hard choices to reduce the deficit and debt.

But he defended costly federal healthcare programmes which Republicans want to pare back. “These things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us,” he said.

The president did make a plea for bipartisanship and unity. “My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together,” Obama said.

Obama also warned that the country cannot succeed if a “shrinking few” succeed economically while the middle class suffers.