'America's possibilities are limitless': Obama takes oath of office for second term
Barack Obama has publicly sworn his oath of office for the second time before a crowd of hundreds of thousands in the National Mall, echoing the Declaration of Independence and calling for unity at the beginning of a speech that emphasised liberal economic and social ideals.
Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.
Mr Obama also declared a decade of war is ending, the US economy is recovering and "America's possibilities are limitless".
Barack Obama is sworn in during the public ceremony as first lady Michelle Obama looks on. Photo: Getty Images
"My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together," Obama said, moments after taking the oath of office.
The President demanded equality for gays, action on climate change and reform of immigration laws, and he defended the role of government as an agent for positive action.
"We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate," he said, referring to the bitterly divided state of American politics, and in particular, of Congress.
Star fans ... Beyonce and Jay-Z attend the inauguration. Photo: Getty Images
“For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.
“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,” he said.
“Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”
Second term ... Barack Obama with his family behind him. Photo: Getty Images
On climate change, Mr Obama said: “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”
Surrounded by family, friends and supporters, as well as members of Congress, the Supreme Court and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a vast specially made stage attached to the West Terrace of the Capitol building, Mr Obama made his oath on two bibles – one owned by Abraham Lincoln, the other by Martin Luther King.
He made the address on Martin Luther King Day, looking out over the crowd to the Lincoln Memorial – from where King made his most famous speech – and the newly-built the Martin Luther King Memorial.
President Barack Obama gives his inauguration address during the public ceremonial inauguration. Photo: Getty Images
By chance the inauguration falls on Martin Luther King Day, and the President addressed the civil rights leader in his speech.
“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth,” he said.
Mr Obama called for collective action and said America’s prosperity “rested upon” a prosperous middle class, rather than a wealthy elite.
Thousands turn out for Obama inauguration
President Barack Obama kisses first lady Michelle Obama after being sworn-in. Photo: Carolyn Kaster
“But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”
Earlier, members of the crowd, many of whom had been waiting in near freezing temperatures since before dawn, amused themselves by cheerfully jeering members of the Republican Party as they were introduced on their arrival on the stage. The republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich received particularly vigorous greetings.
Inauguration events will continue through the day, beginning with the inaugural luncheon in the Capitol, followed by the parade back to the White House and this evening’s two official balls.