Hawaii govt hands over Obama's birth records

Updated: 2011-04-28 11:24


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Hawaii govt hands over Obama's birth records
US President Barack Obama's birth certificate that was released by the White House in Washington April 27, 2011. The White House on Wednesday released a longer version of President Barack Obama's US birth certificate to try to quiet a debate within Republican circles that he was not born in the United States. [Photo/Agencies]

HONOLULU - Until this week, Hawaii officials said they wouldn't release original birth records for anyone, under any circumstances. Even if it was President Barack Obama.

Then they heard from the president himself.

"I am writing to request two certified copies of my original certificate of live birth," the president wrote on White House letterhead, dated April 22.

State officials then decided to make an exception to a 2001 policy that prohibited anyone from getting a photocopy of an original birth certificate. They usually hand out computer-generated versions.

Obama's waiver was the first since 2001. Officials said it would be the last.

By Wednesday, Obama had his copies, releasing them to dispel questions from so-called "birthers" and some Republicans who believe he wasn't born in the US and therefore is ineligible to be president.

At a news conference, he pleaded for the long "sideshow" to end. Many of the skeptics suggest Obama was actually born in Kenya, his father's home country, or Indonesia, where he spent a few years of his childhood.

Since Obama's election, the state was inundated with up to 20 weekly requests for various birth records related to Obama, although that number has since dropped significantly.

It got to the point where legislators passed a law allowing state officials to ignore the repeated requests.

In recent days, potential Republican presidential candidate and reality TV star Donald Trump began questioning why Obama had not ensured the original be released.

On April 22, Obama and his personal attorney wrote letters to Health Director Loretta Fuddy.

In them, they argued that a waiver would allow Obama to make public his original birth certificate and relieve the state from the burdens that came with the repeated inquiries.

"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 Hawaii," Fuddy said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

Fuddy said she viewed the records and that they "further prove the fact that he was born in Hawaii."

After Fuddy approved the exception, Obama's attorney, Judith L. Corley, picked up the documents in Hawaii and carried them back to Washington on a plane. The documents arrived around 5 p.m. Tuesday.

State law prohibits the release of birth records except to those with a "tangible interest," such as the person named.

Only computer-generated birth certificates have been issued since May 2001. The 2001 policy was created to satisfy requests for certified copies and to comply with state laws restricting disclosure of some birth details.

Before then, photocopies of original birth records were provided.

Hawaii's computer-generated birth certificates carry a raised state seal and a signature stamp from the state registrar. They're valid documents for obtaining driver's licenses and other government documents.

That's the type of birth certificate the Obama campaign released in 2008. The computer-generated version does not include such details as the signatures of the mother and the delivering doctor.

Last Tuesday, the state attorney general's office said there were "no circumstances" when the state would release original birth records.

Officials said Wednesday that the exception for Obama complied with the law, and they would continue to protect the confidentiality of vital statistics, such as birth records.

Obama paid $14 for the copies, said Donalyn Dela Cruz, a spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who knew Obama's parents and says he had laid eyes on a young Obama.

"Considering all the investigations that have been done and the information that has been provided, no rational person can question the president's citizenship," Abercrombie said in a prepared statement.

"We have found a way - once again - to confirm what we already knew."

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