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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 1, 2008

Obama's certificate of birth OK, state says

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Dr. Chiyome Fukino

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State Health Department employees continue to be barraged by requests from people demanding to see Barack Obama's birth certificate, including some who have called the department's registrar of vital statistics at home in the middle of the night.

"This has gotten ridiculous," state health director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said yesterday. "There are plenty of other, important things to focus on, like the economy, taxes, energy."

So, in what likely will be a vain attempt to halt the inquiries, Fukino yesterday issued a statement saying that she and the registrar of vital statistics personally inspected Obama's birth certificate and found it to be valid.

Will this be enough to quiet the doubters?

"I hope so," Fukino said. "We need to get some work done."

Fukino issued her statement to try to stomp out persistent rumors that Obama was not born in Honolulu and is therefore not a U.S. citizen and thus ineligible to run for president.

Fukino, however, repeated the Health Department's position that state law prohibits her or any other officials from actually releasing the birth certificate, which Obama's campaign says shows he was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961.

"There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obama's official birth certificate," Fukino said in the statement. "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. ... No state official, including Gov. 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."

The issue has generated attention from around the world and court challenges across the country.

Obama critics in Ohio, Seattle and Philadelphia have tried to get their state officials to remove Obama's name from their election ballots until his birthplace could be confirmed. Judges, so far, have dismissed all of the suits.

A New York Internet author named Andy Martin has a Circuit Court hearing date set for Friday in Honolulu three days after Tuesday's presidential election on his lawsuit to get a certified copy of Obama's birth certificate. Hawai'i's Supreme Court denied Martin's request on Oct. 22 to expedite the hearing.

In Hawai'i, birth, death, marriage and certain divorce documents can only be released to people with a "tangible interest," such as the people themselves, their parents, spouses, grandparents or other relatives.

As a result, Fukino said she does not believe Health Department officials could release Obama's birth certificate to the public even with his permission, although she would need to get a legal ruling to be certain.

Bloggers and Obama critics allege that Obama actually was born in Kenya, but have provided no documentation. Obama supporters and satirists, such as Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, counter that he actually was born on Superman's home planet of Krypton.

Obama's campaign has posted a copy of the Honolulu birth certificate on its Web site at www.fightthesmears.com/articles/5/birthcertificate. The nonpartisan Web site www.Factcheck.org says the document appears to be authentic.

But the Web site documentation has only generated more fuel for skeptics.

They point to the lack of an official state seal on the document, although Health Department officials say seals often are placed on the backs of birth certificates.

Bloggers and other skeptics also wonder why a large black rectangle appears next to the words "CERTIFICATE NO."

Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said the blackened portion is a department file number that was redacted to prevent hackers from breaking into the Health Department's system.

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com.