Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Obama: Natural-born Citizen Debate Rages On

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ObamaOn the 50th anniversary of Hawaii’s birth as a state, it was another birth that clouded the celebration. The House of Representatives on Monday passed a resolution that honors Hawaii’s statehood including a controversial clause stating proudly: “President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii August 4, 1961.”

Such a statement should be routine, however, there are numerous groups and individuals that question the location of Barack Obama’s actual birthplace. In fact, several lawsuits have been filed seeking to have Obama’s election as the 44th president of the United States overturned by the Supreme Court for violating the Constitutional requirement that the president be a “natural born Citizen” (Article II, Section 1).

There are many who claim that President Obama is ineligible to hold the office of the president because he was born abroad. Those holding such a belief are called “birthers” in the media and they reportedly believe that the birth record presented by Hawaiian Health Department officials is a fake and that President Obama was actually born in Kenya, the homeland of his father.

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Among the alleged facts that skeptics of Obama's citizenship status cite are his Kenyan paternal grandmother's claim that she was present at his birth, supposedly in Mombasa, in Kenya. Based on a reading of the transcript of the conversation in which that alleged claim appeared, however, it seems likely to have been the result of a misunderstanding. Also adding fuel to the controversy has been Obama's apparent reluctance to produce documentation that would put the issue to rest. That reluctance has been taken as a sign in many quarters that the President must have something to hide.

In an effort to end the controversy once and for all, Hawaii’s Health Director, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, announced Monday that, “I have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen.” Despite Dr. Fukino’s brief statement, the debate over whether or not President Barack Obama was indeed born in the United States rages on and is remarkably vital enough to motivate 10 congressman to co-sponsor a bill that would require all future presidential candidates to provide a certified copy of their original birth certificate, unquestionably establishing their status as a natural born citizen of the United States.

For its part, the Obama White House responded through press secretary Robert Gibbs who ridiculed reporters’ questions about President Obama’s citizenship at a press conference on Monday. Said Gibbs: “For $15 you can get an internet address and say whatever you want.”