Barack Obama's lofty inaugural ideals run into reality
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Obama already is asking lawmakers for a lot as he starts his second term. He needs their votes to increase the nation's borrowing limit and approve billions of dollars to keep the government running. And he has pledged to pursue stricter gun legislation and comprehensive immigration reform quickly this year, neither of which can pass Congress without some Republican votes.
For environmental groups and gay rights supporters, Obama's inaugural address provided fresh hope for progress on issues that were stumbling blocks for Obama in his first term.
While Obama put into effect tougher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, his efforts to pass a cap-and-trade bill _ which would have capped power plant carbon dioxide emissions and allowed trading of credits for the right to emit greenhouse gases failed on Capitol Hill due to bipartisan opposition. And despite Obama's many actions to bolster gay rights in his first term _ including repealing the military's ban on openly gay service members _ his reluctance to back gay marriage frustrated many of his liberal supporters until he ultimately voiced his support for same-sex unions last year.
Supporters of both issues say Obama will quickly have opportunities to demonstrate his commitment to their causes in his second term.
The Supreme Court will soon take up Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage, a case that could give the justices the chance to rule on whether gay Americans have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals.
Opponents of the ban have called on the Obama administration to file an amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief to overturn the measure.
"We view the president's filing of an amicus brief in this case as the next natural step to his inaugural remarks,'' said Fred Sainz, vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights groups. ``His call for equal justice under the law for gay and lesbian Americans including in their committed relationships is the centerpiece of the argument against Proposition 8.''
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