President Barack Obama advanced a strong, progressive agenda in his historic second Inaugural address last month, calling for equality for women, gay rights, immigration reform, a green economy and a strong middle class.
"The president's bold, passionate Inaugural address lays the foundation for a second term that stands for fairness, equity and justice for all," said NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi, who attended the Inauguration in Washington, D.C. "For me, as a unionist, an educator and an American, it is the right agenda."
Obama, speaking on the holiday marking Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, offered a vision that put American values of equality and economic opportunity at the forefront, and he made history when he extended equality to include gay Americans, a specific reference no other president has made in an Inauguration speech.
"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," the president said.
Obama also was firm in his support for vital social programs such as Social Security and Medicare while building a strong economy that, in turn, builds a robust middle class and expands opportunities for immigrants.
"We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us.
They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great," he said.