The COLB and the LFBC
All You Never Wanted to Know About President Obama’s Birth Certificates
The journey to Birtherstan began with The Birth Certificate. Most Birthers stayed there. Some wandered off to explore the lands of Born in Kenya, Adopted in Indonesia, Two Citizen Parents, or other lands. But for this page, it’s all about the Birth Certificate. Note: Most of this page was written before the April 27, 2011 release of President Obama’s Long Form Birth Certificate. Updates add the LFBC to the FAQ.
Questions about President Obama’s birth certificate fall into two camps (not FEMA camps, though… that’s a whole ‘nother conspiracy theory):
- Obama’s actual birth certificate. According to the officials responsible for keeping Hawaii’s vital records, President Obama was born in the State of Hawaii. In addition, Hawaiian officials say they’ve seen the original records and Obama was born in Hawaii. There are contemporaneous newspaper reports. The Electoral College and Congress said he was qualified when they voted and accepted the results. Barack Hussein Obama II, born in Honolulu Hawaii, is the Constitutionally elected President of the United States of America.
- Obama’s Official Certified Short Form Birth Certificate. In 2007, Hawaiian officials sent Obama his proof of birth documentation in the only form they have issued in this century. It is a document called a “Short form birth certificate (SFBC), a “Certificate of Live Birth” or COLB for short. It has an official stamp and seal. Most of this page is based on that document.
- Added 6/17/2012: Obama’s Certified Long Form Birth Certificate. On April 27, 2011, President Obama released the long form version of his proof of birth documentation, certified by the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health (LFBC). He also released the correspondence with the Director of the Department of Health which shows what he had to do to get this special document as Hawaii no longer issues certified copies of this document.
- Added 6/17/2012: Official Verification of the Facts of Birth. In June 2012, the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health issued two separate Verifications of Birth attesting that the facts of birth in Barack Obama’s original birth record match the information in his Long Form Birth Certificate.
- Misunderstandings about everyone’s birth certificates. People who say that a COLB isn’t legally the same as a birth certificate are wrong. People who have a birth certificate that contains little footprints don’t have a legal document, it’s a souvenir from the hospital. People who say that because the President’s online COLB has the certificate blacked out and that thus voids the document don’t know the difference between an image posted online and a valid paper document. (HINT — writing on an image doesn’t physically change the actual paper document. You also don’t get a raised seal that you can feel on an image.) Everyone has a birth certificate, but most people don’t really know what the document means. We’re here to help. See our comprehensive page Birth Certificates 101.
President Obama’s Actual Proof of Birth in Hawaii
The original record of Obama’s birth is kept in Hawaiian vital records, safely locked away with all the other original birth certificates of people born in Hawaii. The official certified copy that his campaign posted online is what Hawaii issues. Republican officials from the Governor Lingle administration have said:
“There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obama’s official birth certificate. State law (Hawai‘i Revised Statutes §338–18) prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record.
“Therefore, I as Director of Health for the State of Hawai‘i, along with the Registrar of Vital Statistics who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawai‘i State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.
“No state official, including Governor Linda Lingle, has ever instructed that this vital record be handled in a manner different from any other vital record in the possession of the State of Hawai‘i.” STATEMENT BY DR. CHIYOME FUKINO October 31, 2008
When that didn’t work, they tried again:
“I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, Director of the Hawai‛i State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawai‘i State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawai‘i and is a natural-born American citizen. I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago.” STATEMENT BY HEALTH DIRECTOR CHIYOME FUKINO, M.D July 27, 2009
Added 6/12/2012: When that didn’t work, President Obama requested a certified copy of his original birth record in April 2011 and posted a scan of the document online. The Director of Health granted the special request by making an exception to the department’s policy of only issuing computerized birth certificates. Correspondence, here. Dr. Loretta Fuddy stated in her letter that she watched the original record being copied and attests to the authenticity of the certified copy.
Added 6/12/2012: In June 2012, the Department of Health issued two separate Verifications of the Facts of Birth to the Secretary of State of State of Arizona and to attorneys for the Mississippi Democratic Party. In these verifications, the State Registrar for Hawaii verified that the original birth record is indeed on file in Hawaii and that the information in the original vital record matches what is posted on the White House web site.
Obama has produced proof of his birth in Hawaii, in the form Hawaii currently issues it, to everyone who was required to see it. Posting an image online is the easiest, most efficient way of getting information out to the public these days, so the Obama campaign posted a scan of his COLB online in June 2008.
The best pictures are at FactCheck.org. That organization sent a team to photograph the document after Obama, on campaign at the time, invited reporters to come inspect it. You can enlarge the images to see details such as the raised seal, Signature stamp, folds, number, etc. It is a real document issued in 2007. It looks like most birth documents do these days. Here are some from other states.
In sworn testimony before the Hawaii Senate Committee on Judiciary and Government Operation, for Senate Bill SB 2937 (also known as the Vexatious Requestor Bill), Director of Health Chiyome Fukino, M.D. testified:
For more than a year, the Department of Health has continued to receive approximately 50 e‑mail inquiries a month seeking access to President Barack Obama’s birth certificate in spite of the fact that President Obama has posted a copy of the certificate on his former campaign website.
Added 6/17/2012: In 2012, President Obama held a press conference to release his certified Long Form Birth Certificate, obtained by special request fron the State of Hawaii. At that press conference, reporters in the White House Press Corps were allowed to see the original paper document. At least one, NBC reporter Savannah Guthrie, reported that she handled the document and felt its raised seal. She later posted cell phone images of the LFBC. The White House posted a scanned image of the document, and the Department of Health in Hawaii links to that page.
GUTHRIE: well, i was actually given an opportunity to look at this birth certificate today. i felt the raised seal, i saw the names, the date, the place of birth. so mr. trump is saying there’s a lot of revelations thanks to him, but the fact remains as it has with the short-form certificate as it has for years, the president was born in honolulu, hawaii . Transcript, NBC News.
So President Obama has 1.) Posted a scanned copy of the computer-generated document sent to him by the Hawaii Department of Health, and 2.) allowed a well-respected fact-checking organization to photograph the actual document and post the pictures online, Added 6/17/2012: 3.) posted a scanned copy of the long form birth certificate sent to him by the Hawaii Department of Health, and 4.) allowed reporters to see and examine that document.
The Department of Health in Hawaii has released an index listing for Obama’s birth.
Obama II, Barack Hussein
A blogger received copies of the relevant pages from the Birth Index via a records request. Obama’s name appears as:
OBAMA II, BARACK HUSSEIN M.
The birth index entry was created when the original birth certificate was finalized. Hawaiian officials have said they they looked at Obama’s birth record and he was born in Hawaii. That, plus the birth document posted online at Factcheck.org, has been enough for everyone but a few conspiracy theorists.
Highly unlikely, to the point of absurdity. The governor of Hawaii at the time was a Republican. Not just any Republican, it was Linda Lingle, the first Jewish governor of Hawaii. Lingle is a friend of Sarah Palin and gave a primetime speech praising Palin at the 2008 Republican Convention. Lingle also supported McCain because of his position on Israel. It’s hard to imagine Governor Lingle would lie just because she wanted a Hawaiian president. In a WABC interview, Governor Lingle said:
“It’s been an odd situation… This issue kept coming up so much in the campaign, and again I think it’s one of those issues that is simply a distraction from the more critical issues that are facing the country. And so I had my health director, who is a physician by background, go personally to view the birth certificate in the birth records of the Department of Health, and we issued a news release at that time saying that the president was, in fact, born at Kapi’olani Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. And that’s just a fact and yet people continue to call up and e‑mail and want to make it an issue and I think it’s again a horrible distraction for the country by those people who continue this…”
“It is a distraction from the bigger issues of the day, and while I agree with the president on some things, I have some strong disagreements on others, this issue is not one that’s important to the country. Again, it’s been established he was born here. I can understand why people want to make certain that the constitutional requirement of being a natural-born American citizen, I can understand why they feel that’s important, and it is, but the question has been asked and answered, and I think we should all move on now.”
If you are saying that Obama somehow inserted false info into those records, or that officials in Hawaii are lying about having seen the original records, then it is up to you to prove that.
Added 6/17/2012: In addition to the officials in Republican Governor Linda Lingle’s administration, officials in the current Democratic administration also have said that they have seen the original records. Director of Health Dr. Loretta Fuddy says that she personally has seen the original records.
“We hope that issuing certified copies of the original Certificate of Live Birth to President Obama will end the numerous inquiries related to his birth in Hawa’i,” Hawa’i Health Director Loretta Fuddy said. “I have seen the original records filed at the Department of Health and attest to the authenticity of the certified copies the department provided to the President that further prove the fact that he was born in Hawa’i.” Press Release, State of Hawaii.
Federal guidelines set up requirements, processes, and model regulations for states to use when setting up Vital Records systems. This ensures consistency throughout the various states.
The only “proof” any of us has as to where we were born is provided by witnesses at the time of birth. Those witnesses fill out paperwork that is sent to the state or country we were born in. Officials empowered by state law determine what is true at the time of birth, record it contemporaneously, then issue certified documents based on that info. States keep those records forever. When anyone needs proof of their place and time of birth, they get official documentation from those same officials.
Added 6/17/2012: The doctor who delivered Obama was Dr. David A. Sinclair, at the Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu.
You may be able to get BCs going back to the 1500s, but you can’t get them for living people in most states without their written permission. You can’t get mine. Privacy laws in every state detail who can get copies of these records. Like almost all US states, Hawaii is a closed records state, meaning than only certain people have access to birth certificates. From the State of Hawaii Department of Health web site:
State law prohibits the DOH for disclosing any information about a Hawaii vital record unless the requestor has a direct and tangible interest in the record. This includes verification of vital records and all the information contained in a record. Vital records disclosure laws protect all birth, death, marriage and divorce records held by the department and all amendments, changes, supporting records, and requests related to vital records.
Direct and tangible interest is determined by HRS §338–18(b). This statute may be accessed on the state legislative website at:
The law that governs vital records in the State of Hawaii is Hawaii Revised Statutes chapter 338, which may be accessed on the state legislature website at: http://www:capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/
Information on how to order certified copies of vital records in Hawaii and who is eligible to order vital records in Hawaii, is available on the DOH website at: http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/vital-records/index.html
In May 2010, Hawaii passed a bill called the SB2937, known as the “Vexatious Requester Bill,” designed to legally allow the Department of Health, the Department of Attorney General, the Office of Information Practices and Department of Human Services to decline to respond to certain requests for Obama’s birth certificate and other related presidential birth record information. The law doesn’t make asking about Obama’s documentation a crime, it merely allows the state workers to ignore persistent requests from the same person or coordinated group. There are no criminal or civil penalties at all.
[Spokesperson Janice Okubo] says 5 to 10 hours a week, she and her fellow state workers answer repeated demands from people outside of Hawaii seeking copies of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Official documentation, she points out, that the health department has on file but is not authorized under Hawaii law to release to anyone except the president himself or someone in his immediate family.
The health department has a canned response letter and informational Web page to distribute to “birthers” who want proof that Obama was born in Hawaii and not out of the country. Okubo also can refer callers to Obama’s own Web site, where he posted what he says is his birth certificate.
Okubo maintains that she isn’t opposed to answering questions or providing information to journalists or citizens who have “reasonable” requests. But there are three or four people who keep asking for information and don’t stop, even when the department gives them most everything they request, she says. — Malia Zimmerman, editor of Hawaii Reporter
Apparently, the DOH was getting bombarded by a small group of bloggers from outside Hawaii, in a period where budget cuts had eliminated four people from the Vital Records division and remaining staff have been required to take two unpaid furlough days per month. Many of the requests were identical except for changes to a word or two. One of the bloggers wrote:
That is why, when Okubo denies, you have to read between the lines, because she does not always deny what you requested, even when she denies what she denies.
These bloggers also tried to overwhelm officials with coordinated phone calls on a specific day, a sort of low-tech Denial of Service attack. Is it any wonder that Hawaii felt the need for such legislation?
See the FOGBOW FORUM discussion at: Hawaii passes “vexatious requester” law, sends to Lingle
While the story was originally published in several publications and on CNN, there was no fire that destroyed Obama’s original records. The source of this story was an internet satire titled: Barack Obama Now Claims Hawaiian Birth Certificate Destroyed In Pearl Harbor Bombing
The birth records in the Hawaii State Archives are alive and well. According to Janice Okubo, public information officer for the Hawaii DOH,
I am not aware of any birth certificate records that have been destroyed by the department… When the department went electronic in 2001, vital records, whether in paper form or any other form, [were] maintained. We don’t destroy records… Any records that we had in paper or any other form before 2001 are still in file within the department. We have not destroyed any vital statistics records that we have.(WND)#mce_temp_url#
In 2001, Hawaii’s paper documents were reproduced in electronic format, but “any paper data prior to that still exists,” Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said. (USA TODAY)
See the FOGBOW FORUM discussion at: Hawaii State Archive Fire??
Problems with the President’s Certificate of Live Birth
Obama’s COLB is not the original from 1961. In 2007, when Senator Obama was preparing to run for President, he requested certified copies of his birth certificate in case any were needed for state primary applications. The COLB was then printed in the format and paper Hawaii used in 2007. It’s new and hasn’t been handled much, and computer scans are poor at showing 3‑dimensional features.
On the bottom of the form, the number “OHSM 1.1 (Rev. 11/01) LASER shows the date the form was introduced.
If your birth certificate is hand-written with additional fields, it was probably printed before 1990 or so. After that, most states have been moving towards shorter, computer-generated forms for proof of birth. This is because of privacy concerns — it used to be common for people to use mother’s maiden name or hospital as security questions, and birth records used to be open to the public. Now it’s more common to see the shorter form, printed on computer forms. What makes them legal is the stamp of the registrar and the raised seal. The registrar certifies that the info on the form matches the info on the actual copy that is held in the official records.
Added 6/17/2012: In May 2001, the State of Hawaii stopped issuing photocopies of original birth and marriage certificates and issued only computerized COLBs after that date.
What was posted was a scan of an actual document and scans don’t pick up security features or 3‑D features well. The pictures shown on Factcheck.org show the 3‑D features. Note the folds, the raised seal, and the signature stamp that bleeds through from the back. The photos show an officially certified proof of birth in Hawaii document.
“I guess the big issue that’s being raised is the lack of an embossed seal and a signature,” [Spokesperson for the Hawaii DOH] Okubo said, pointing out that in Hawaii, both those things are on the back of the document. “Because they scanned the front … you wouldn’t see those things.”
Okubo says she got a copy of her own birth certificate last year and it is identical to the Obama one we received.
In 2008, the state of Hawaii revised their COLB format and changed it to use “Certificate” instead of Certification. COLBs printed today will have a few differences from ones printed in 2007. While no one knows why this was done, some speculate it was in part to placate “Birthers” who made a big deal over the use of “Certification”. The choice of words doesn’t matter one whit as to the validity. If it has the seal and the stamp, it is valid.
See the FOGBOW FORUM discussion at: Hawaii Has Changed their COLB
Claim: Obama’s COLB online is a forgery with a forged seal. After 1 year delay, Hawaii Dept of Health finally released the real seal used on all vital documents, which grotesquely does not match at all the forged seal used on Obama’s forged COLB on factcheck and fight the smears, it’s not even close.
The “seal” illustrated isn’t the actual embossed seal, it’s a rubbing of a seal. The embossed seal on one COLB needs to be compared with other examples of the embossed seal used on other birth certificates of the same vintage. An inverted seal IS a raised seal when you turn it over.
Compare this sealfrom another actual COLB with the one from Obama’s COLB.
Hawaii can change the seal at any time, depending on their needs.
“§321–9 Seal, rules and regulations. The department of health may adopt a seal and may adopt such rules and regulations as it may consider expedient for the conduct of its business. The department may amend or revise such rules and regulations from time to time.”
Since 2001, the Hawaiian COLB IS the birth certificate you get from the state. Here’s what you got in the 1970s: same information, only not computer generated. Here’s what you got in the 1960s: a photostat of the original on file. Notice that they all say Certificate of Life Birth at the top. If the holder of this BC requested a certified BC today, they would get the same form that Obama has posted
Of course the 1963 Nordyke one is different. No one is claiming the COLB Obama posted was from 1963. It’s from 2007. Had Mrs. Nordyke requested a copy of her daughter’s BC in 2007, it would look like Obama’s COLB. We rely on State governments to certify proof of birth information so that we don’t have to keep documents for 45 years, we can get new ones every time we need them.
Added 6/12/2012: The Long Form Birth Certificate matches the format of the Nordyke Twin’s birth certificates. As the state no longer issues the longer format, President Obama had to get special permission to get a certified copy of his original birth record, AKA the LFBC.
If your birth certificate has footprints, read it carefully. It is not a state-issued document, it is a souvenir from the hospital. The hospital doesn’t keep it on file. If you lose it, there are no copies of the footprint anywhere. The state doesn’t keep foot or hand prints on infants as they have no use after the infant gains some weight and hydrates all the wrinkles away. (Babies come out wrinkled, a little fluid and they plump right up.) If you take that birth certificate to get a passport, they’ll send you back for a state-issued official one.
See the FOGBOW FORUM discussion at: “footie” birth certs
In 1961, when the form was filled out, the “parent’s race” section was (according to the Department of Health in Hawaii) self-reported by the parents. The parents get to put down whatever they feel describes them. Hawaii prints what the parents wrote. (Makes sense in a polyglot state with so many different cultures.)
Some birth certificates show JAPANESE, HAWAIIAN, WHITE, DANISH, AMERICAN, etc.
The key is not to ask Americans is “African” a race, but to ask Africans. Obama Sr. was Kenyan: and they viewed the term “race” differently than we did. In the Kenyan census of 1962, the choices for race were:
“Race.- Write European, Arab, Somali, or African, etc. Asians must write Indian or Pakistan”
So if Obama Senior was asked what race he was, his culture and country had taught him to say “African.”
Added 6/17/2012: The State of Hawaii says that people chose what to put down for Race. If you look at Hawaiian birth certificates, you’ll see White, American, Caucasian, Hawaiian, Korean, Javanese, etc. The clerks at the DOH then put those entries into the standard racial classifications for statistical coding. (1‑Caucasian, 2‑whatever Black was at the time, etc. 9 is “other”) On Obama’s long form birth certificate, there is a pencil “9” by Father’s Race to indicate that it was to be coded “Other.”
In 1961, “Negroes” were black Americans. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Black Africans were called “African.” Here’s a guidebook to Africa from 1961 opened to Kenya — note the races.
The instructions for filling out the Standard US birth certificate says:
FATHER’S RACE and MOTHER’S RACE (Check one or more races to indicate what the father considers himself to be). White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native (Name of the enrolled or principal tribe), Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Other Asian (Specify), Native Hawaiian, Guamanian or Chamorro, Samoan, Other Pacific Islander (Specify), Other (Specify).
There is no place to write a child’s race, Added 6/17/2012: and no Child’s Race appears on either the COLB or the the LFBC.
In 2007, Obama sent to Hawaii for a certified copy of his birth certificate in preparation for running for president. They sent him a properly stamped and sealed Certificate of Live Birth. In the summer of 2008, his campaign put it up online to show that his middle name wasn’t Muhammad. When the staffer assigned to the task couldn’t find anyone who could tell him whether or not the serial number could be used for ID theft (like a Social Security number or a driver’s license number), he blocked it out. When Factcheck.org photographed the COLB, they had figured out that the serial number just was used for Hawaii records. The full unredacted number appears in the photographs.
The certificate number is redacted on the IMAGE, not on the actual certificate. Changing the image has no effect on the actual document.
Hawaiian birth certificates don’t list religion, even for the parents. Here is an actual birth certificate from Hawaii in 1962. No religion is listed at all.
6 year olds don’t have a religion, their parents do. Six year old children have the religion of their parents, they aren’t mature enough to understand for themselves. In a Muslim country just a couple of years past a brutal internal conflict where hundreds of thousands of people were killed, it made sense to identify Obama as a Muslim. But his parents were pretty much Agnostic and didn’t raise him in any religion. He chose Christianity as an adult.
Added 6/17/2012: A 1961 long-form Hawaiian birth certificate also does not have any box for “Race of Child.” Obama’s long-form birth certificate does not say he was born “white” because it CAN’T say his race. There’s no spot for it. It’s simply an outright impossibility.
President Obama’s father is listed on the COLB and the LFBC as Barack Hussein Obama, and both documents are certified as exactly matching what is in the original record. A name on a birth certificate is of course no guarantee that the individual was actually the father, but the “hidden” birth certificate says Barack Hussein Obama, African, is the father.
Malcolm X was assassinated on 2/21/1965. Any evidence that Malcolm X was ever in Hawaii? Or if Stanley Ann Dunham was ever in Detroit or Harlem? Answer — no.
The term “Christian name” means “given name”. It has nothing to do with the religion of the parents. People in some Asian cultures only have one name, while parents in other cultures choose odd names or names that don’t match the gender of the child. (Like Stanley Ann Dunham, for example.) The law was intended to simplify life for the child. Jech v. Burch, 466 F. Supp. 714 — Dist. Court, D. Hawaii 1979
Until 1967, it was required that all children born in wedlock shall have their father’s name as a “family name” and “[besides] … a Christian name suitable to their sex.” R.L.1955, § 327–2. In 1967, the words “Christian name suitable to their sex“6 were deleted and the words “given name” substituted. L.1967, ch. 6, §
Footnote 6: There is no known case in which the requirements of “a Christian name” that was “suitable to their sex” were ever enforced.
The law was further amended in later years, and now simply requires a given name and a family name. BTW — this is a prime example of “quote mining,” where someone has searched for any article on Hawaii Births (see the search terms at the top of the page) and leapt to a wrong conclusion.
The Department of Health has used both filed and accepted dates depending on the year the form was printed. The Hawaii Certificate of Live Birth form 50 years ago had two fields — Date Received, and Date Filed. The two dates were usually the same. Over the years, Hawaii evolved to only one field. For a while it was Date Received, but that was changed a few years ago to Dated Filed. This was to align the process more closely with national guidelines.
The US State department requirements for passports include the “filed” terminology.
[C]ertified copies of birth certificates must also include the following information to be considered acceptable primary evidence of U.S. citizenship:
- The date the certificate was filed with the registrar’s office (must be within one year)
The CDC Model State Vital Statistics Act (1992) uses the following suggested language for state regulations:
A certificate of birth for each live birth which occurs in this State shall be filed with the (Office of Vital Statistics),or as otherwise directed by the State Registrar, within 5 days after such birth and shall be registered if it has been completed and filed in accordance with this section.
The Hawaii Department of Health has incorporated the Model State Vital Statistics Act into its regulations. “Filed” is the current preferred term, regardless of what was acceptable in the past.
Added 6/17/2012: “Date Accepted by Local Registrar” and “Date Accepted by the Reg. General” are the 2 data fields on the LFBC. There was no “Date Filed” field in 1961. The current preferred term is what appears on the COLB, but it’s the same data field as on the LFBC.
See the FOGBOW FORUM discussion at: “accepted” vs “filed”
The 2007 COLB by Obama shows a missing space for the date filed. Instead of “August 8, 1961” it shows “August 8,1961” The space between 8, and 1961 is missing. Since COLBs are computer generated and other COLBs showed the space after the day, the suggestion was made that Obama’s COLB was forged and the forger had dropped a space.
What it means is that when the programmer set up the script to print the COLB field for “Date Filed” he or she made an obscure mistake in the formatting of the field. This means that anyone doing a forgery would had to have been so precise as to have picked that out.
However, when comparing the COLB, which was printed in 2007 with another 2007 COLB, both show the same lack of spacing.
See the FOGBOW FORUM discussion at: The case of the COLB and the Missing Space
No. Unattended births in Hawaii required more than a simple signature to be issued a birth certificate. They required an investigation by the Department of Health to ensure that a baby was actually born and to get the details for the original birth certificate. That took longer that 3 days (2 of them a weekend). According to the US Public Health Service’s “Vital Statistics of the United States (Vol. 1, Natality.) for 1961, there were only 14 non-hospital births in the city of Honolulu that year. Any report of a non-hospital birth would be unusual. (See the US Census)
Added 6/17/2012: As evident by the LFBC, this claim is nonsense. The doctor who delivered Obama was Dr. David A. Sinclair, at the Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu.
For detailed procedures for unattended births, see our comprehensive Birth Certificates 101.
It’s one thing to fake a document, quite another to fake an entire State Department of Vital Records. Hawaiian officials (including the Republican governor who campaigned for McCain, and introduced Palin to the Republican National Convention, and the curent Democratic Administration) have said Obama was born in Hawaii. When the appropriate officials in the State of Hawaii say someone was born there, there’s no need to fake anything. You just get a certified document saying you were born there. Like the one every Hawaiian-born person gets. Like the one Obama has.
Sure, someone can get fake documents that pass for real in almost every situation. But people who fake their credentials don’t expect anyone to check with the real sources of the information. Faking an identity only works if the people you are trying to fool are landlords, small employers, neighbors, etc. Faking an identity on the national stage is another thing. Anyone running for public office expects every last detail of their lives to come out.
Passing fake official documents is a crime. Neither Hawaiian law enforcement officers nor the state’s Attorney General have publicly questioned the document because they know Obama’s COLB and LFBC are real. Since all a birth certificate does is certify that the information matches the official record, no one has to “prove” that the document was forged. A long-form could also be forged. A hospital record could be forged. But what matters is what is on file in the Hawaiian Vital Records.
What President Obama’s Done with his Proof of Birth in Hawaii…
Let’s say you had to show your proof of birth document. You write to the state you were born in, and they send you a certified document saying where you were born and when. You show that to everyone who needs to see it. They accept it. You post it on a website to show other people that your middle name isn’t Muhammad — and people start claiming the document proves you weren’t born in the US. Everybody else says you were, particularly when the officials of your state say you were born there. Then some nuts file lawsuit after lawsuit claiming that not only weren’t you born there, but some long-dead Swiss guy says you weren’t even a citizen. (NONE of the lawsuits would be solved by just a long-form BC — read them at The Fogbow Forum.) As of 6/17/2012, there have been over 140 such lawsuits as detailed in The Birther Scorecard.
Obama HAS to defend himself and his office against these lawsuits. Otherwise, anyone could sue the office or the president for anything. None of the cases has ever made it past the initial stages, because none of them have any basis in reality.
He has. Twice. Thefirst document that he released, the Certification of Live Birth (COLB), is a valid Hawaiian birth certificate, the only form of birth certificate that the State of Hawaii has issued for about ten years. People in Hawaii use COLBs every day to get drivers’ licenses, passports – even to join Little League! In fact, while some people may still have older forms that were issued in prior years, anyone under the age of about ten born in Hawaii has only a COLB, because that is the only form of birth certificate that Hawaii gives to the parents of newborn infants and anyone else who requests one.
Some of the “birthers” demanded that President Obama produce yet another birth certificate, one of the forms that’s no longer issued. While older forms showed additional data, like the name of the hospital and the attending physician, that information has no bearing on presidential eligibility. Why should he indulge them by chasing after their irrelevant demands? He’s proven when and where he was born, and we don’t normally require people to keep proving things they’ve already proved. President Obama can’t do anything that would win over the “birthers” anyway. Ignoring them marginalizes them more and more, particularly as time goes by and they are forced to come up with even wilder theories.
Added 6/17/2012: On April 27 2011, President Obama released his certified Long Form Birth Certificate as he felt that his national agenda was being hijacked by prominant birthers such as Donald Trump. Many birthers claimed it was a forgery before they even saw it.
There are other birthers who don’t care about the birth certificate. For some it’s because they claim, falsely, that natural born citizenship requires two citizen parents as well as birth on US soil; for others, it’s because they claim falsely that President Obama somehow lost his citizenship as a child. Neither of those subgroups would be satisfied even by a personally delivered original birth certificate
See the FOGBOW FORUM discussion at: Should President Obama Produce His BC?
Obama is entitled the same privacy as ordinary citizens, both before and after his Presidency. It is not a special Presidential privacy law, it is the same one that applies to all Hawaiian-born citizens.
State law prohibits the DOH from disclosing any vital statistics records or information contained in such records unless the requestor has a direct and tangible interest in the record, or as otherwise allowed by statute or administrative rule. See HRS §338–18. Direct and tangible interest is determined by HRS §338–18(b). (Hawaii Department of Health)
Added 6/17/2012: Hawaii law says that certain parties are entitled to a Verification in lieu of Certified Copies for certain parties.
Letters of verification may be issued in lieu of certified copies (HRS §338–14.3). This document verifies the existence of a birth/death/civil union/marriage/divorce certificate on file with the Department of Health and any other information that the applicant provides to be verified relating to the vital event. (For example, that a certain named individual was born on a certain date at a certain place.) The verification process will not, however, disclose information about the vital event contained within the certificate that is unknown to and not provided by the applicant in the request.
Added 6/17/2012: In June 2012, the Department of Health issued two separate Verifications of the Facts of Birth to the Secretary of State of State of Arizona and to attorneys for the Mississippi Democratic Party. In these verifications, the State Registrar for Hawaii verified that the original birth record is indeed on file in Hawaii and that the information in the original vital record matches what is posted on the White House web site.
The COLB and LFBC are birth certificates, and there is no reason to believe that anyone who rejects them is any more likely to be convinced by any other form of birth certificate – not to mention those who don’t care about the birth certificate anyway.
Obama has to reply to the suits to preserve legal protection for the Office of the President. A sitting President is immune to CRIMINAL prosecution, but not CIVIL prosecution for acts that occurred prior to his taking office. (Clinton v. Jones, 1997)
Added 6/17/2012: According to the updated Birther Scorecard, there have been over 140 eligibility cases or ballot challenges filed in US courts. Those cases have resulted in more than 130 decisions, 70 Appelate Court rulings and 18+ trips to the Supreme Court. Every single case decided has resulted in dismissal or a denial of appeal. Most of these cases have named parties other than President Obama, or in addition to him. None would have been satisfied by any birth certificate or record from Hawaii. Many allege that Obama was born outside the US, or lost his citizenship somehow, or doesn’t meet some definition of Natural Born Citizen. We cover those reasons in other sections of this FAQ.
None of the eligibility lawsuits have never made it to that stage. In any court proceeding, there are a series of steps that the court has to go through to determine whether it is authorized to consider the case, addressing questions such as, does the plaintiff have the right to bring the case? Is this court the correct place to bring it? Is the plaintiff’s desired outcome something the court has the power to provide?
You can’t get to the details of the case if you can’t establish these things. Many of the cases have failed to establish standing, and none will ever be able to get past jurisdiction. That’s because the Constitution says who can qualify a president (The Electoral College and Congress), and who can remove one (Congress, via Impeachment and conviction after trial). It’s a separation of powers thing. See Article II, Sections 1 through 4 of the Constitution of the United States.
You have the right to demand anything you want, but that doesn’t mean someone has the obligation to give it to you. There is in fact no requirement under U.S. law for a presidential candidate to supply any form of birth documentation whatsoever. President Obama, on his own, voluntarily offered certified copies of his COLB and LFBC. He posted scans online. Representatives of Factcheck.org went went to his campaign headquarters where they examined and photographed the COLB. Reporters from the White House Press Corps examined and handled the LFBC.
If he were ever required to provide a hard-copy birth certificate, all he would have to do is produce a stamped and sealed paper COLB, and any U.S. court would deem it sufficient proof of citizenship at birth. The form states, “This copy serves as prima facie evidence of the fact of birth in any court proceeding.” It also lists the relevant Hawaiian law, HRS 338–13(b), 338–19, and under the Full Faith and Credit clause of the U.S. Constitution, it would be fully acceptable anywhere in the United States.
One appropriate time to bring this up again will be when President Obama runs for reelection. He will be required once more to demonstrate his NBC status to the people who matter — the voters, the Electoral College, and the Congress, which has the power to accept or reject the electoral votes.
Most states these days don’t issue copies of the original birth record, they issue a computer-generated form with much less information on it. In Hawaii, that’s called a Certificate of Live Birth. (Sometime after 2008, the State of Hawaii changed the wording from “Certification of Live Birth,” as it appears on the released COLB, to “Certificate of Live Birth.” Should President Obama order and release a new certified copy as of this writing, the wording in the title would read Certificate.) There is no data in the original record that would make a difference as to either certifying where and when President Obama was born or establishing his citizenship at birth.
When a policeman stops you and asks you for your driver’s license, you hand him your official state-issued card. You don’t need to carry the original documents that corroborate the data on it, such as the results of your driving test, your eye test, your SS card, your birth certificate, or proof of residence.
Same thing with the COLB. It doesn’t show the hospital, doctor, and a few other pieces of information, but it does show the elements that matter: born where and when, when the document was filed with the State Registrar, and no notations of amendments or alterations.
Added 6/17/2012: The LFBC does show additional information, including the hospital, doctor, address of the mother, occupations of the parents, etc. Like the COLB, it shows the elements that matter: born where and when, when the document was filed with the State Registrar, and no notations of amendments or alterations.
Who has seen President Obama’s long form birth certificate, COLB, or other proof of US citizenship? Reporters at Factcheck.org, officials in Hawaii, the Secretary of the Senate (it’s required when freshman senators report for orientation), the Bar Association of Illinois, the DMV in Illinois, admissions clerks at Occidental, Harvard, and Columbia, the Department of State (he has a valid passport), University of Chicago Law School (where he taught classes) and other employers, and The White House Press Corps.
Maybe he doesn’t have the one his parents had when he was a child? Maybe he doesn’t want the doctor’s family bothered? Maybe he thinks that proving birth in Hawaii by means of the COLB is sufficient? (It is.)
The Supreme Court is not an investigative court. It doesn’t issue subpoenas. It is primarily an appeals court and has Original Jurisdiction only in very limited instances:
“In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.” (US Constitution, Article III Section 2)
Congress has subpoena power for all records in the US and diplomatic power for non-US records. Even assuming that a Congressional committee could successfully subpoena the “long form,” they still could not make it public. In the legal business we serve subpoenas for medical records on a daily basis, but that doesn’t give us the right to make those records available to anyone else.
All the committee could do is release a report saying that they reviewed the long form and that it shows that Obama was born in Hawaii. Do you think that would satisfy the birthers? They would still scream that it is probably a forgery, etc.
President Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961.