Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Residential Home Planned for LGBT Youth

I ran away from home once when I was a teenager. My parents didn't understand me, etcetera, so I went and lived in my friend Wendell's garage for two weeks. He had a cool room there, with black lights and posters and an old couch that I crashed on. I know his parents knew I was there, and I never told my parents where I was but they must have known. I was in summer school, making up a class I'd gotten a low grade in, and I hitchhiked across town every day for my class. I wouldn't say it was fun, but it was not the worst thing that ever happened to me, I exercised a little independence and everything worked out, I moved home again after a while and I don't remember there being any big conflict or tragedy about it.

I was lucky. Even if they were horrible mean dictators who were ruining my life, my parents more or less understood me and understood my need for some independence. Also, Wendell's place was available, so I had somewhere to go, and Wendell's parents seemed to take it all in stride. I didn't think about it at the time, but I have the feeling they were in touch with my folks while I was there, everybody making sure I was safe.

A lot of kids don't have it so lucky, they have to sleep on the streets or hustle in ways that are not good for them in order to survive. Runaways are exposed to danger, and of course you want to stay out of the system, so there is not much in the way of help from the government or any other agency or organization.

Especially the gay and transgender kids.

Imagine that your parents don't understand you at all, that the kids you went to school with reject you, and their parents won't have you around. Home is unbearable so you light out, you're on the street, subject not only to the things that straight runaways are subjected to -- the challenges of hunger, climate, the law -- but also the violence directed at you by haters and bullies for the fact that you're different, and the danger of predators who can operate outside the blanket of the law. LGBT youth have it a lot tougher than regular straight punks like me at fifteen.

Monday, December 15th, County Council member Duchy Trachtenberg, Equality Maryland, and Hearts & Homes for Youth will sponsor a roundtable discussion at the County Council offices in Rockville to discuss the development of a residential home for LGBT youth. From their flyer:
Equality Maryland and Hearts & Homes For Youth, Inc. are working together to develop Maryland’s first residential home serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth.

In 2007, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force reported that there were more than 115,000 LGBT youth living on the streets. That number is disproportionately larger than their straight counterparts, and increases daily. Advocates for Youth reports that homeless LGBT youth are more likely to use drugs, participate in sex work, survival crimes and attempt suicide.

When LGBT youth seek assistance they report frequently being faced with intolerant staff and aggressive and sometimes hostile and violent residents. They report being threatened, belittled and abused at shelters and oftentimes opt to live on the streets rather than in places in which the adults responsible for their care ignore or tolerate their victimization. Our organizations’ unified goal is to establish a safe and affirming facility that addresses the unique issues and concerns that face this population.

On Monday, December 15, 2008 at 5:30 pm. Montgomery County Councilmember, Duchy Trachtenberg, along with Equality Maryland and Hearts & Homes for Youth, will host a roundtable for interested allies to establish community support in this venture. We are anxious to move this venture forward and need your help to do so. We hope that you can join us. The roundtable will be held at County Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue Rockville, MD 20850, 5th Floor Conference Room. RSVP to Loretta at (301) 589-8444 ext 202 or loretta@heartsandhomes.org.

You can see there is a need for this. I hope that interested members of the community will show up and contribute what they can.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is desparately needed. It's more important than marriage, ENDA, DODT, any of that. LGBT youth are more likely to out of their homes, and often abused in what services there are for homeless youth.

NGLTF and the National Coalition for the Homeless published a report in 2007 that estimated (based on analysis of available research) that 20%- 40% of homeless youth identify as lgbt, meaning between 100,000 and 600,000 who identify as queer (not even to mention those who are but don't).

Anyone who knows homeless people and/or lgbt youth is aware of the degree of what amounts an epidemic.

An Epidemic of Homelessness

This is such a serious issue. I ask of anonymous that he not make this just another excuse for lgbt-pejorative comments; it is not a debating point, but a serious problem.

December 02, 2008 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This will most certainly be a great program. Last year I had a student in a homeless situation but was able to help her secure somewhere safe in DC. Kudos to all involved! There is a special place in Heaven for those who truly care about others.

December 02, 2008 5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"but also the violence directed at you by haters and bullies for the fact that you're different,"

And how does anyone know they're different?

"Runaways are exposed to danger, and of course you want to stay out of the system, so there is not much in the way of help from the government or any other agency or organization.

Especially the gay and transgender kids."

No, not especially. All troubled kids should be treated the same way. What limited funds the county can find, with their 250 million dollar deficit, should help all kids.

"Advocates for Youth reports that homeless LGBT youth are more likely to use drugs, participate in sex work, survival crimes and attempt suicide."

Yet another reason schools should not be encouraging kids to self-identify as gays.

It's a dangerous lifestyle.

December 02, 2008 6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being gay is not a dangerous lifestyle, AnonBigot. It´s also not a choice--- Homophobia, bred from ignorance and hated, is the problem. The truth is, we can help a lot more children if people like you would just get out of the way with your fake science, lies and hated. I´ll leave the judging part to God, but I don´t think He approves of your lifestyle of hating thy neighbor all that much.

December 02, 2008 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drick, you guys say the feelings are not a matter of choice. It's something that can't be proved one way or the other.

The behavior and the lifestyle are definitely a matter of choice, however, as is the matter to take your feelings public.

The lifestyle is dangerous and one way to minimize the number of kids who sucuumb to it is to stop teaching a treacly, unreal portrait of homosexuality in the public schools. Then, fewer kids will find themselves in the predicament described by Duchy above.

Another proposed waste of the taxpayer money to accomodate the gay agenda.

December 02, 2008 8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting, really. A "separate but equal" facility for the LGBT community. Actually, this type of separation would be beneficial for the heterosexual kids. The heterosexual kids in need of a residential home are already dealing with difficult issues, and certainly don't need to be further exposed to such an epidemic of complicated problems from the LGBT community. I think it could definitely be a "win-win" situation all the way around.

December 02, 2008 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me anonymous but its comments (i.e. "lifestyle)like that which make it necessary for facilities like these.

The words out of your mouths sounds like the comments said by parents as they are kicking their lgbt children out of their houses.

December 02, 2008 10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This coming Friday, the Supreme Court will review in conference the case filed by Leo Donofrio citing questions over Obama’s citizenship. As you may know, conferences are private meetings in which the justices review cases and decide which ones to accept for formal review. This conference (Dec. 5) is just 10 days before the Electoral College is scheduled to meet to make formal the election of Obama as the nation’s next president.

The mainstream media has failed to cover this issue.

December 03, 2008 7:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The words out of your mouths sounds like the comments said by parents as they are kicking their lgbt children out of their houses."

Any instances of this happening in MC?

December 03, 2008 7:29 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Drick, you guys say the feelings are not a matter of choice. It's something that can't be proved one way or the other."

No more so than can the feelings that you or anyone else has for the desire to love and be loved, and yes, that includes the human desire for sexual intimacy.

So if you think that the human desire to experience love is simply a “behavior,” and a “lifestyle,” and a “matter of choice,” then you really should speak for yourself, because most of the rest of humanity doesn’t feel the way that you do.

December 03, 2008 7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the first test of what the post-Bush American political landscape will look like, Georgia voters, who flocked to see Sarah Palin campaign for the Republican candidate for Senate this weekend, yesterday elected her choice.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama has pretty much completed naming a cabinet that looks alot like it had been designed by John McCain.

George Bush' Secretary of Defense.

As Secretary of Treasury, one of the main architects of Bush's current economic approach.

A Secretary of State who voted to invade Iraq and agrees with McCain that direct talks with Iran would be "irresponsible and naive".

How about the new head of the Council of Economic Advisors, who believes low tax rates are vital to economic health.

TTF doesn't know this is a centrist-right nation but our president-elect does.

December 03, 2008 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So if you think that the human desire to experience love is simply a “behavior,” and a “lifestyle,” and a “matter of choice,”"

You don't read very well, do you?

I call for an increase in funding for reading comprehension classes in the nation's funny farms!

December 03, 2008 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feckless cretin.

On the actual topic, this is a much-needed service that we should all be behind. I would love to see something like this in Virginia, as it is very difficult to get youth placed in shelter care in our state (parents have to give permission). There is a shelter run by Sasha Bruce in DC for trans youth, but I haven't heard much about it.

Anything I can do to help?


December 03, 2008 8:04 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Sure, Robert, you can attend the presentation.

Just fyi, this is not a county project, and no funds are being solicited.

December 03, 2008 8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous noted:

“Yet another reason schools should not be encouraging kids to self-identify as gays.

It's a dangerous lifestyle.”

Indeed, Anon, Lawrence King was shot for identifying as gay by one of his heterosexual classmates. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/23/us/23oxnard.html ) It’s hard to imagine a “lifestyle choice” with more negative consequences than that.

Yet for reasons I still find unfathomable, there are still segments of our society that find greater fault the Lawrence King than with the prevailing attitude that gays are less than human that allows this type of violence to grow and fester.

It’s one thing to type away anonymous derogatory commentary about “the gay lifestyle” ™ or “sexual deviants,” but when these and even more negative attitudes about any group of people are propagated to children with far less impulse control, the consequences can be fatal. The attitudes they are taught as children often follow them into adulthood, where at time when they SHOULD have more impulse control, the dogma that has been so ingrained in them gives them perfect justification for assaulting and even murdering people for being gay, or just the suspicion of being gay.

Barry Winchel wasn’t murdered because he identified as gay, he only dated women. The problems arose when he fell in love with a beautiful woman who happened to be a pre-op transsexual. He had his brains bashed in with a baseball bat while slept because one of the heterosexual guys in his platoon considered him a “rope sucking faggot.” ( http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9902E5DB1E3AF93BA15756C0A9669C8B63 )

It’s hard to imagine more negative consequences than that.

You don’t even have to BE gay, or partake of “the gay lifestyle” ™ to be assaulted:

“Karl Aarsheim, 32, left the Minneapolis Eagle, a Washington Avenue gay bar, where he and his wife were meeting a friend for drinks Tuesday evening. On his walk home at around 11:30 p.m., several men in orange construction vests approached him. One of the men asked, "Are you a faggot?" Aarsheim replied, "No. And so what if I am?"

One of the men then assaulted Aarsheim. He was kicked in the head and neck, leaving swelling and bruising, and needed a number of stitches near his eye.”

( From: http://www.minnesotaindependent.com/4254/35w-bridge-workers-accused-in-anti-gay-assault )

As you can see, it’s dangerous just to “associate” with gay people because you might be considered gay yourself, which sets you up as an automatic target.

Indeed, being gay IS dangerous. Some heterosexuals have abusive and / or murderous tendencies which are apparently entirely uncontrollable around gay people.

And yet there are still people who believe that the depression and suicide rates among gays are so high BECAUSE THEY ARE GAY. No; they are depressed and suicidal because of the way society treats them.

A number of GLBT folk have learned to take the insults in stride and let them role off our backs, rather than internalize the derogatory epithets, take them personally, and risk depression. We realize that these comments are the result of poor upbringing, unquestioned dogma, insecurity, fear, and ignorance. With enough education and a bit of compassion, we just might be able to bring our society past this point.




There once was a troll named Anonymous,
who loved to deride gays and androgynous.
Over his keyboard he’d linger,
then type with one finger,
prose to annoy all of us.


This morning’s poetry slam brought to you by the letter “A.”

December 03, 2008 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon
Oh, no, Anon has uncovered our secret- we elected a Kenyan/Indonesian Muslin terrorist/socialist/communist. This conspiracy was aided and abetted by the DNC/GOP and the ZOG. I guess Anon was the only one not in on this- and the nutters writing about this nonsense.

And on a serious note- anyone see the New Yorker cover- My president vetting his daughters' most important White House appointee. My vote goes to the 3rd candidate.

December 03, 2008 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you've finally started to wake up, Andreary.

Did you guys hear that the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Obama will name the first openly gay woman to the Cabinet in history?

Apparently, he has selected Mary Beth Maxwell for Labor Secretary.

December 03, 2008 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got an idea.

Why don't all of you go on a hunger strike until they start this new LBZGT home?

Make it an all-TTF hunger strike.

That'll scare the heck outta 'em!

December 03, 2008 3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The words out of your mouths sounds like the comments said by parents as they are kicking their lgbt children out of their houses."

Any instances of this happening in MC?


Sunday, February 13, 2005; Washington Post, Page C01

Maya Keyes loves her father and mother. She put off college and moved from the family home in Darnestown to Chicago to be with her dad on a grand adventure. Even though she disagrees with him on "almost everything" political, she worked hard for his quixotic and losing campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Now Maya Keyes -- liberal, lesbian and a little lost -- finds herself out on her own. She says her parents -- conservative commentator and perennial candidate Alan Keyes and his wife, Jocelyn -- threw her out of their house, refused to pay her college tuition and stopped speaking to her.

Maya, 19, says her parents cut her off because of who she is -- "a liberal queer." Tomorrow, she will take her private dispute with her dad into the open. She is scheduled to make her debut as a political animal, speaking at a rally in Annapolis sponsored by Equality Maryland, the state's gay rights lobby.

She plans to talk about "what it was like for me growing up as a liberal queer in a very conservative household. I've known so many other people in a position like mine, where their families really don't want much to do with them. Maybe I can help by talking about it."

December 03, 2008 4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice try, CBTS

Maya Keyes was an adult and did not spent any time on the streets

I personally think her father was out of line but this is not a candidate for your homeless teen home

still, if you think the home is important, you should go on a hunger strike!

December 03, 2008 4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this group home is not going to use tax money, why is tax money being used to host the discussion at the County Office Building?
The schools charge outside groups to use their buildings? Is the County charging EM and the other group to use the room?
What is the fee?

December 03, 2008 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

December 03, 2008 5:03 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, you need to come out of this pattern of repeating the same three dumb questions over and over again. Give it a break.


December 03, 2008 5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being gay is not a lifestyle, AnonBigot, it is a life.

December 03, 2008 6:33 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

It's called "Community Use of Public Facilities."

December 03, 2008 11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you use taxpayer government time to set this up? I'll bet dollars to donuts that you made a few calls during your working hours.

December 04, 2008 12:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a big Dana-fan but the Dr may use the time to serve any constituent including gays.

If you don't like it, work to get her reprehensible boss voted out at the earliest possible opportunity.

"Anon, you need to come out of this pattern of repeating the same three dumb questions over and over again."

The questions are responses to dumb statements made by your supporters. They have repeated the three lies these questions address over and over again.

December 04, 2008 12:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feckless cretin.

Dana, I'll see if I can make it to the presentation. What will the format be, and opportunities for discussion and contribution? How can I find out more about what is being proposed, and by whom?


December 04, 2008 6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally think her father was out of line but she was 19 years old so, that's her problem and out she goes. Is that what you mean, Ahem?

MoCo police and social workers don't report the sexual orientation of homeless youth, but that doesn't mean LGBT kids don't get kicked out by their families. Homeless LGBT kids thrown out of the house by intolerant parents is a problem in communities from coast to coast, including right here. Maya Keyes, who was disowned by her parents once the public found out she was gay, which was years after they themselves knew she was gay, works to focus attention on the problems of disowned LGBT kids like herself. Here's an excerpt from her 2005 interview with Metro Weekly shortly after her parents decided they would not fund her deferred studies at Brown, studies she deferred in part, to work on his Senate campaign in Illinois.

MW: What's positive that can come out of this?

MARCEL-KEYES: Well, for example, Equality Maryland asked me to speak at their rally, and I spoke about the problem of queer kids and homelessness, how it's a really big issue in the community and it's often overlooked. If I can take some of the chaos that's been swirling around all of this and channel it into something that will raise the awareness of things that I've been very concerned about over the years, some good will come of it.

MW: You are officially homeless, right?

MARCEL-KEYES: Technically speaking, I don't have anywhere to go. I have lots of friends and I could probably go crash with them. I'm going back to Chicago and I'm not really sure what I'm going to do when I get there. I have no place to live there, but there have been people offering to help me find housing, offering to let me stay with them for a little while until I figure things out. I don't have an official place to live but I really doubt that I will be spending much time wandering the sidewalks.

MW: What about college?

MARCEL-KEYES: After I graduated high school, I got into Brown University. I deferred and went to India for a year. There's an organization there that works with tribal people. They run a hospital and a school for the tribal kids. I was teaching English and computer skills to kids my age who were training to be nurses at the hospital. I came back to America when [my father's Senate] campaign started and I deferred for a second year. I was supposed to start this fall. My dad was supposed to be paying my tuition but that's not happening anymore. I was a little bit worried that I wouldn't be able to go, but the Point Foundation -- a group that gives scholarships to LGBT kids -- is willing to help me get to Brown after all. So, hopefully, I will be starting at Brown in the fall.

MW: How do you think your father is reacting to the fact that you're in the media, front and center, making headlines?

MARCEL-KEYES: I think he sees it as somehow me trying to hurt [my parents], which is ridiculous. I love my parents and I would never want to hurt them. If I just wanted to do something for myself, I would have never gone and helped with his campaign. I could be at Brown right now. I could have been at Brown two years ago. There would never have been any controversy, there would never have been anything. I would just be happily anonymous, studying, nothing to worry about, having my tuition paid for and going home for Christmas.

But I am queer. And people think it's news because I'm queer and who [my father] is. I can't help that. I'm not going to turn straight just because he thinks being queer is a personal insult to him.

MW: Are gay people doing enough to fight the opposition?

MURRAY: It depends what opposition you're talking about. I do think that the gay community does very well when it comes to gay marriage and hate crimes. But I also think that there are overlooked areas: the queer kids out on the streets.

MARCEL-KEYES: We're fighting to get married, which is very important. But at the same time you can't overlook the fact that there are kids who are fighting just to stay alive and they are a big part of the community. It's a massive problem that never gets attention.

MW: What should we do in this country to help homeless gay kids?

MARCEL-KEYES: There's a whole lot of support they need. They need places they can go to get shelter and food and health care.

MURRAY: They need a space where nobody can judge them because they feel very judged by everyone around them. Their parents have told them they're evil, they're wrong, they're sick, get out of our house. So they need a place where no one is going to preach to them. They just need a place where they are safe and not out on the street starving, having to sell themselves just to get food.

Many Montgomery County parents encourage their 19 year old offspring live at home, at least during college breaks until they finish college and most do not refuse to talk to their own kids. Do you think parents should throw all their kids out of the house, refuse to talk to them, and renege on their promise of college tuition when they reach 19 or do you think they should do that to only their LGBT kids who come out publicly?

December 04, 2008 7:26 AM  
Blogger Tish said...

I assume that if this facility were opened in Montgomery County the county would be involved in licensing, as well as in supervising the minors who have been placed there by county social services. It certainly makes sense for the county to have an involvement in discussing the facility.

Is this proposed facility intended to serve only Montgomery County, or is it to serve a larger area of the state?

December 04, 2008 7:32 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...


It's meant to serve a larger area; they just have three potential homes that are within their reach in MoCo right now.

Robert, I suggest you contact either Cedar Lane UU or Rockville UU for more info, or go to heartsandhomes.org.

Anon, thanks for the backhanded compliment. Use of a term such as "reprehensible," will not make you friends or help you influence people.

December 04, 2008 7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"will not make you friends or help you influence people"


I was so close to being BFF with Duchy.

I wasn't complimenting, backhandedly or otherwise. I was simply pointing out that public servants serve the public.

December 04, 2008 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duchy should spend her time stopping the illegals from tapping the county health system. Then there would be more for the psychiatric help of the LGBT kids that pull at your heartstrings.

December 04, 2008 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know, the concept of undocumented workers and their families getting health care? How outrageous, as though they were equivalent human beings, or something. What will happen next, electing someone as president who isn't a middle-age white man? Oh, wait....

December 04, 2008 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I checked out the website. Hearts and Homes appears to be a well-articulated, stable institution providing much-needed services in a child-centered way.

Alas, it appears they serve on Maryland youth.


December 04, 2008 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a stable institution? depends on how stable the person reading the info is.

December 04, 2008 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's nice when I'm insulted as an individual rather than just for being queer. Thank you, dear. We all take this as an expression of love.

Do you have a thing for bald, middle-aged men? Send me a picture and stats, and we can discuss it.

December 05, 2008 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for what it's worth, Robert, that wasn't the usual anon you're responding to

December 05, 2008 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All those white hoods look alike. Pick a handle or a screen name


and use it.

December 05, 2008 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't care what Robert thinks, I was just giving him information

your idea that anyone who objects to homosexuality is the equivalent of a violent racist is insane

are you one of the many insane individuals who posts here?

they really shouldn't have internet access in funny farms

December 05, 2008 1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your idea that anyone who objects to homosexuality is the equivalent of a violent racist is insane

As is your idea that white hoods are the equivalent of violent racists.

It is an unfair representation of the simple appreciation we have for our White Christian culture.

Remember, we stand with you in your objection to homosexuality.

December 05, 2008 8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Supreme Court will review in conference the case filed by Leo Donofrio citing questions over Obama’s citizenship.... This conference (Dec. 5) is just 10 days before the Electoral College is scheduled to meet to make formal the election of Obama as the nation’s next president.

The mainstream media has failed to cover this issue.

You mean this non-issue of yet another meritless attempt by GOP operatives to prevent the duly elected Barack Obama from taking office. It's just another piece of the GOP's Southern Strategy, which worked quite well in Georgia this week.

Here's the list of CERTIORARI GRANTED issued by the Supreme Court on Dec. 5, 2008. The Obama citizenship case based on the fact that his father was not a US citizen when he was born in Hawaii, even though his mother was, was not accepted.

December 06, 2008 8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it should have been

it would be a very easy case to resolve

The state of Hawaii has refused to release his birth certificate or say whether it indicates he was born in the U.S.

meanwhile several witnesses, including a tape recording of his grandmother indicate he was born in Kenya

December 06, 2008 6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FactChecker reports Born in the U.S.A.

August 21, 2008
Updated: November 1, 2008
The truth about Obama's birth certificate.

In June, the Obama campaign released a digitally scanned image of his birth certificate to quell speculative charges that he might not be a natural-born citizen. But the image prompted more blog-based skepticism about the document's authenticity. And recently, author Jerome Corsi, whose book attacks Obama, said in a TV interview that the birth certificate the campaign has is "fake."

We beg to differ. FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as "supporting documents" to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said.

Update, Nov. 1: The director of Hawaii’s Department of Health confirmed Oct. 31 that Obama was born in Honolulu.

Update Nov. 1: The Associated Press quoted Chiyome Fukino as saying that both she and the registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, have personally verified that the health department holds Obama's original birth certificate.

Fukino also was quoted by several other news organizations. The Honolulu Advertiser quoted Fukino as saying the agency had been bombarded by requests, and that the registrar of statistics had even been called in at home in the middle of the night.

Honolulu Advertiser, Nov. 1 2008: "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." . . . Will this be enough to quiet the doubters? "I hope so," Fukino said. "We need to get some work done."

Fukino said she has “personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures."

Since we first wrote about Obama's birth certificate on June 16, speculation on his citizenship has continued apace. Some claim that Obama posted a fake birth certificate to his Web page. That charge leaped from the blogosphere to the mainstream media earlier this week when Jerome Corsi, author of a book attacking Obama, repeated the claim in an Aug. 15 interview with Steve Doocy on Fox News.

Corsi: Well, what would be really helpful is if Senator Obama would release primary documents like his birth certificate. The campaign has a false, fake birth certificate posted on their website. How is anybody supposed to really piece together his life?

Doocy: What do you mean they have a "false birth certificate" on their Web site?

Corsi: The original birth certificate of Obama has never been released, and the campaign refuses to release it.

Doocy: Well, couldn't it just be a State of Hawaii-produced duplicate?

Corsi: No, it's a -- there's been good analysis of it on the Internet, and it's been shown to have watermarks from Photoshop. It's a fake document that's on the Web site right now, and the original birth certificate the campaign refuses to produce.

Corsi isn't the only skeptic claiming that the document is a forgery. Among the most frequent objections we saw on forums, blogs and e-mails are:

The birth certificate doesn't have a raised seal.
It isn't signed.
No creases from folding are evident in the scanned version.
In the zoomed-in view, there's a strange halo around the letters.
The certificate number is blacked out.
The date bleeding through from the back seems to say "2007," but the document wasn't released until 2008.
The document is a "certification of birth," not a "certificate of birth."

Recently FactCheck representatives got a chance to spend some time with the birth certificate, and we can attest to the fact that it is real and three-dimensional and resides at the Obama headquarters in Chicago. We can assure readers that the certificate does bear a raised seal, and that it's stamped on the back by Hawaii state registrar Alvin T. Onaka (who uses a signature stamp rather than signing individual birth certificates). We even brought home a few photographs.


The Obama birth certificate, held by FactCheck writer Joe Miller


Alvin T. Onaka's signature stamp


The raised seal


Blowup of text

You can click on the photos to get full-size versions, which haven't been edited in any way, except that some have been rotated 90 degrees for viewing purposes.

The certificate has all the elements the State Department requires for proving citizenship to obtain a U.S. passport: "your full name, the full name of your parent(s), date and place of birth, sex, date the birth record was filed, and the seal or other certification of the official custodian of such records." The names, date and place of birth, and filing date are all evident on the scanned version, and you can see the seal above.

The document is a "certification of birth," also known as a short-form birth certificate. The long form is drawn up by the hospital and includes additional information such as birth weight and parents' hometowns. The short form is printed by the state and draws from a database with fewer details. The Hawaii Department of Health's birth record request form does not give the option to request a photocopy of your long-form birth certificate, but their short form has enough information to be acceptable to the State Department. We tried to ask the Hawaii DOH why they only offer the short form, among other questions, but they have not given a response.

The scan released by the campaign shows halos around the black text, making it look (to some) as though the text might have been pasted on top of an image of security paper. But the document itself has no such halos, nor do the close-up photos we took of it. We conclude that the halo seen in the image produced by the campaign is a digital artifact from the scanning process.

We asked the Obama campaign about the date stamp and the blacked-out certificate number. The certificate is stamped June 2007, because that's when Hawaii officials produced it for the campaign, which requested that document and "all the records we could get our hands on" according to spokesperson Shauna Daly. The campaign didn't release its copy until 2008, after speculation began to appear on the Internet questioning Obama's citizenship. The campaign then rushed to release the document, and the rush is responsible for the blacked-out certificate number. Says Shauna: "[We] couldn't get someone on the phone in Hawaii to tell us whether the number represented some secret information, and we erred on the side of blacking it out. Since then we've found out it's pretty irrelevant for the outside world." The document we looked at did have a certificate number; it is 151 1961 - 010641.


Blowup of certificate number

Some of the conspiracy theories that have circulated about Obama are quite imaginative. One conservative blogger suggested that the campaign might have obtained a valid Hawaii birth certificate, soaked it in solvent, then reprinted it with Obama's information. Of course, this anonymous blogger didn't have access to the actual document and presents this as just one possible "scenario" without any evidence that such a thing actually happened or is even feasible.

We also note that so far none of those questioning the authenticity of the document have produced a shred of evidence that the information on it is incorrect. Instead, some speculate that somehow, maybe, he was born in another country and doesn't meet the Constitution's requirement that the president be a "natural-born citizen."

We think our colleagues at PolitiFact.com, who also dug into some of these loopy theories put it pretty well: "It is possible that Obama conspired his way to the precipice of the world’s biggest job, involving a vast network of people and government agencies over decades of lies. Anything’s possible. But step back and look at the overwhelming evidence to the contrary and your sense of what’s reasonable has to take over."

In fact, the conspiracy would need to be even deeper than our colleagues realized. In late July, a researcher looking to dig up dirt on Obama instead found a birth announcement that had been published in the Honolulu Advertiser on Sunday, Aug. 13, 1961:

Obama's birth announcement

The announcement was posted by a pro-Hillary Clinton blogger who grudgingly concluded that Obama "likely" was born Aug. 4, 1961 in Honolulu.

Of course, it's distantly possible that Obama's grandparents may have planted the announcement just in case their grandson needed to prove his U.S. citizenship in order to run for president someday. We suggest that those who choose to go down that path should first equip themselves with a high-quality tinfoil hat. The evidence is clear: Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A.

Update, August 26: We received responses to some of our questions from the Hawaii Department of Health. They couldn't tell us anything about their security paper, but they did answer another frequently-raised question: why is Obama's father's race listed as "African"? Kurt Tsue at the DOH told us that father's race and mother's race are supplied by the parents, and that "we accept what the parents self identify themselves to be." We consider it reasonable to believe that Barack Obama, Sr., would have thought of and reported himself as "African." It's certainly not the slam dunk some readers have made it out to be.

When we asked about the security borders, which look different from some other examples of Hawaii certifications of live birth, Kurt said "The borders are generated each time a certified copy is printed. A citation located on the bottom left hand corner of the certificate indicates which date the form was revised." He also confirmed that the information in the short form birth certificate is sufficient to prove citizenship for "all reasonable purposes."

–by Jess Henig, with Joe Miller
United States Department of State. "Application for a U.S. Passport." Accessed 20 Aug. 2008.

State of Hawaii Department of Health. "Request for Certified Copy of Birth Record." Accessed 20 Aug. 2008.

Hollyfield, Amy. "Obama's Birth Certificate: Final Chapter." Politifact.com. 27 Jun. 2008.

The Associated Press. "State declares Obama birth certificate genuine" 31 Oct 2008.

Nakaso, Dan. "Obama's certificate of birth OK, state says; Health director issues voucher in response to 'ridiculous' barrage" Honolulu Advertiser 1 Nov 2008.

December 07, 2008 12:14 PM  

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