Where is the Obamas’ marriage certificate?

Easter is a classic time for weddings, and why not. I’m married, again (so far so very good). Some of you are married. Barack and Michelle Obama claim they were married:

on October 3, 1992 by Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois.

This isn’t proof, or even evidence. Consider these well-known facts:

  • The black family has disintegrated. Single mothers cohabit with a shifting cast of male drifters and criminals, financing their unplanned children from welfare. Barack Obama isn’t quite like that himself, but he was a community organiser among them, an advocate for these people. He must have absorbed their un-American values, if he didn’t share them already, as an East-Coast Harvard liberal elitist.
  • Reverend Wright: ’nuff said! The Rev. “God damn America” – would such a man bother with legal formalities?
  • President Obama supports gay so-called marriage [Update: in spite of unconvincing denials by librulls, see comments]. This shows that he has no commitment to real traditional American marriage, “as long as we both shall love” as the Bible says, somewhere.

Americans should demand that Barack and Michelle Obama produce their marriage certificate. Not a “certified copy”.

We want to see the original certificate: you know, the one with proper certificatey calligraphy and a seal and rolled up and tied with red ribbon: the one they give you at the time and you swear you won’t lose. Like the one Donald Trump released:

I bet you that the Obamas will refuse to produce a proper certificate, They will try and palm off on us a mere copy, printed out and stamped by some indifferent and probably corrupt official of Cook County, Illinois. Cook County! They’d issue one for Al Capone’s dog.
/wingnut

Now I can only ask this because I can show you mine and Lu’s.

This is a photograph of our page in the current marriage register of the Gibraltar Registry Office. It doesn’t have the signatures; the photo was taken before the ceremony, but I can supply five photos of me, Lu, our witnesses, and the registrar signing it afterwards.

Now that’s an original certificate: a page in a register that does not belong to me and Lu but to the state.

I will never see it again, and nor will you. The registers are kept in a secure room in the Registry Office. To have another look, we would have to ambush the harmless registrar soon on his unsuspecting way to marry another couple in a hotel and force him a gun- or knife-point to show us the book. As soon as the register is full, it will stay in the strongroom and we’d have to hire a team of bank robbers to break in.

The Registry Office naturally does not advertise its security arrangements. Since land is scarce in Gibraltar town, they may find it easier to keep their archives in the 50 miles of tunnels dug by British military engineers inside the Rock. These were carefully designed to resist attack by French navies, Spanish armies, Nazi paratroopers and in some cases Soviet atom bombs. Any vault inside would be out of reach of civilian talent; we’d have to hire ex-Spetsnaz or French Foreign Legion mercenaries. And even then success is far from assured: the local military are not some weekend militia but a a small regiment of serious professional soldiers, the British Army’s experts and training cadre for tunnel fighting. Doesn’t seem worth it, really.

In Britain, there is no private access to any register of births, marriages or deaths since the church registers were replaced by a civilian system in 1837. I mean this: you can ask for a copy of your great-great grandma’s certificate from 1842, and they publish indices to help, but the original? Nada. For all anybody outside knows, the registers may have been eaten by mice in 1871 or burnt in the Blitz in 1941 or chopped into cat litter in a Thatcherite cost-cutting drive in 1981. You can ask to see official papers about Lloyd George’s mistresses or the founding of MI6, but not the registers. Cook County? Well, they lost the early records in the fire of 1871. The County Clerk’s website and genealogical request form give no indication you can see any of the registers after that.

This close-fistedness over the registers is extreme, but entirely consistent with their original purpose. They started out in effect as Stasi files. The system of compulsory registration of baptisms, marriages and funerals in every parish church was invented by Cardinal Cisneros, primate of Spain, in 1497. Thomas Cromwell, the Protestant-leaning minister of Henry VIII, brought it into England in 1538. Cromwell’s registers had to kept in a box with two keys; a fine of 3 shillings and 3 pence could be levied for each failure to register – a month’s wages for a labourer.

What these lovable characters were interested in was Bad Thinking. Bad Thinking was a threat to state security, and it had to be stopped, quickly or, it may be, slowly. The Bad Thinking might come from Lutherans, or Papists, or crypto-Jews, or Anabaptists – everybody had it in for Anabaptists. One of their Errors was to deny the efficacy of the sacraments and rites of the proper established church; so they would often fail to bring a child for baptism say. A compulsory register killed two birds with one stone. It warned the authorities of outbreaks of Bad Thinking and helped identify Bad Thinkers to assist the authorities with their enquiries. To the rest of the population, it provided a steady reminder of the importance attached by the state to sticking to Good Thinking.

Providing copies of entries to individuals for their private purposes is a later and accidental benefit. There have never been pretty ribbons.

Happy Easter, whatever your beliefs or civil status.

Comments

  1. Brett Bellmore says

    Who cares? Being married isn’t a constitutional requirement to be President, so nobody has any basis to demand proof of their marriage. The matter is quite different with respect to his natural born citizen status. And, “I bet you that the Obamas will refuse to produce a proper certificate, They will try and palm off on us a mere copy,”

    A mere copy of Obama’s birth certificate would be fine, if properly authenticated. Too bad we can’t even get that…

    Frankly, I’m pretty sure he IS a natural born citizen, unlike McCain. But I think he ought to have to freaking prove it, if anybody expresses doubt. Just like I think proof that a President was born more than 35 year prior to assuming office ought to be provided on demand.

    No unenforceable constitutional clauses, thank you.

  2. Bernard Yomtov says

    A mere copy of Obama’s birth certificate would be fine, if properly authenticated. Too bad we can’t even get that…

    I really don’t understand. What is the difference between a COLB, authenticated by a state official, and a copy of the original certificate, authenticated by the same state official? Either the official is honest or not. A phony copy of a birth certificate can be created pretty easily, I’d say.

    Frankly, I’m pretty sure he IS a natural born citizen, unlike McCain.

    Only “pretty sure?” Thus Brett joins the legion of cowardly birthers, who just don’t quite have the courage of their convictions.

  3. Bartleby says

    “Cowardly.” Yes, that’s the word. I was thinking “smug,” but no, “cowardly” is exactly right.

  4. Brett Bellmore says

    Yes, only “pretty sure”. I wasn’t in the operating room when his mother delivered, you know. I try to maintain a sane amount of doubt about anything I can’t personally verify. Yeah, I have the courage of my convictions. I just don’t have the convictions you want to attribute to me. “Obama ought to have to prove he’s a native born citizen, and he can!“, might not be a stance you can wrap your head around, but it doesn’t prevent me from holding it.

  5. Swift Loris says

    I am totally perplexed as to why it isn’t crystal clear that he’s already done that

  6. Maurice Meilleur says

    I’m not sure what’s worse:

    1. having decided in advance that Obama is not a citizen, and refusing to acknowledge any evidence to the contrary;

    2. starting from the premise that since we can’t know anything for certain, and concluding that we therefore can’t know for certain that Obama is a citizen, and thus that his citizenship is still in doubt;

    3. claiming both that Obama hasn’t produced every shred of evidence any other person can regarding his citizenship, and yet also that he could do so if he wanted (so I’m really rational and not at all racist, trust me!); or

    4. doing #3, but also concluding–as Brett has done in previous threads on this topic–that Obama is witholding such evidence tactically, the purpose of doing being to vex conservatives like himself.

    #1 is loony, #2 is juvenile, #3 is slimy, and #4 is just batsh*t stupid. I’m thinking poxes and houses.

  7. CharleyCarp says

    One presumes that Mr. Bellmore has never been present at the delivery of a US President, and that he is therefore unsure whether the constitutional requirement has ever been met. In which case one might say it’s like the requirement of a congressional declaration of war, or Senate ratification of any agreements with foreign nations — no longer, uh, exactly operative.

  8. Ken D. says

    As Cromwell used to say, “On pain of a fine of 3 shillings and 3 pence, feedest not the trolles who infecteth our publick discourse.”

  9. Warren Terra says

    I’m terribly concerned at the low standards of Mr. Bellmore. Obviously, being present at the birth would not be sufficient – what if, despite all his best efforts, Mr Bellmore popped out of the room for a moment, perhaps to answer a call of nature, and someone swapped the rightful future President with a nefarious interloper, a baby programmed to undermine our way of life? If Mr. Bellmore truly loved this land of ours, he would have demanded that he be handcuffed to the newborn, if not actually surgically attached.

    I call now for all true patriots to descend upon the maternity wards of this country, discern those infants displaying unusual promise, and irrevocably attach themselves to said infants lest their citizenship later be called into question. If the parents, the hospital personnel, or the authorities attempt to interfere, denounce them for the foreign agents they so obviously are. If you are concerned that there aren’t enough patriots at your maternity ward, attach yourself to multiple infants! Remember, eternal vigilance – and the occasional diaper changing – is the price of liberty!

    I see this as the only possible solution to the crisis that he befallen us. After all, I, like many of us, witnessed the swearing in of Barack Obama, if indeed that was Barack Obama, on television on January 20, 2009 – but that broadcast could have been faked, and even if all was as it appeared, what proof do any of us have that the man who took the oath that January day hasn’t been replaced with his doppelganger? If we’d taken the precaution to sew him together with a true American patriot – or perhaps three or four, in the name of redundancy and because maybe the first one would prove unreliable – I would not now be consumed by this terrifying sense of doubt.

    PS To the best of my very limited knowledge, the child of an American citizen is themselves an American citizen, and so Mr. Bellmore’s weak attempt to mimic bipartisanship by asserting that John McCain isn’t a natural-born citizen is as much nonsense as his claims about Barack Obama. Although, since none of us were present at Mr. McCain’s birth, nor continuously attached to him since then, there is some room for doubt.

  10. paulo says

    I think Obama should sit on a copy machine – all bare arse – and issue that as his long form birth certificate. I mean in every politician’s life, he has to answer the question: What would Kinky do?

  11. navarro says

    i keep trying to tell you folks that brett is a conceptual comedian, just laugh and move on.

  12. Warren Terra says

    Oh, and congratulations on your marriage. I hope that some good fun was had with the outdated formalities (I mean, “spinster”? Father’s name and occupation, and only father’s?).

  13. Warren Terra says

    i keep trying to tell you folks that brett is a conceptual comedian, just laugh and move on.

    I’m trying to move on, but it’s hard now that I’m attached to all these babies.

  14. Dylan says

    I think your bullet points peg much right-wing antipathy toward the president. I don’t think most opposition to his policies is racist (they opposed the last Democratic president vehemently enough without the racial component) but it’s unreasonable to deny that MUCH of the antipathy toward Obama has to do with the perception of him as someone foreign in terms of nation and faith, a perception that could not exist if he were 100 percent white, born of two white Christian parents and named Barry Smith. But if he were, the right would still object to his policies on taxes, health care, etc., just as strongly, so I’m not sure how much the unfounded sense of foreignness actually counts at the end of the day.

  15. Bernard Yomtov says

    Brett,

    “Obama ought to have to prove he’s a native born citizen, and he can!“, might not be a stance you can wrap your head around, but it doesn’t prevent me from holding it.

    You seem to have missed the point of my comment.

    The “proof” you demand has no more evidentiary value (I think that’s what the lawyers call it) than what has been presented. If Hawaiian officials are prepared to present a falsified COLB, why wouldn’t they be equally willing to present a falsified copy of a birth certificate?

    Of course there are two points you neglect. First, it’s illegal for them to present the actual certificate. Surely, Mr. Brett (strict rule of law) Bellmore, you can understand that. Second, no matter what evidence Obama produced there will be those who will not accept it, and demand more. Irrational people are irrational, you see. And you will be right there with them, lurking, wondering why that one additional piece of evidence hasn’t been presented, but all the while talking about being “pretty sure,” to cover your a**.

  16. Brett Bellmore says

    “2. starting from the premise that since we can’t know anything for certain, and concluding that we therefore can’t know for certain that Obama is a citizen, and thus that his citizenship is still in doubt;”

    Of course it’s in doubt. It’s not a mathematical truth, after all. I’d say it’s not in very much doubt. Your demand that I accord the matter absolute metaphysical certitude is duly noted and rejected.

  17. Joe Pallas says

    I try to maintain a sane amount of doubt about anything I can’t personally verify.

    Well, that’s an opening a mile wide, isn’t it? But we’ll pass on the sanity question for the moment, and ask instead whether your level of doubt about Barack Obama’s birth matches your level of doubt about other things you can’t personally verify—for example, the ratification of the US Constitution. Certainly the political stakes were a lot higher in 1788-1790, if conspiracy is your thing.

  18. James Wimberley says

    Brett’s standards were historically applied in the French monarchy: queens gave birth surrounded by courtiers, to ensure that the baby was actually of the magical royal blood and not an inferior substitute. It seems a bit difficult to apply this ides in a sort-of republic, though the Bush an Kennedy dynasties might take it up.

    I’m disappointed nobody has really taken up my marriage certificate demand. The birth stuff is so 2010.

  19. James Wimberley says

    Warren:
    Thanks! “Spinster”: still used in England for banns of marriage SFIK, with “bachelor”. It is indeed odd that they ask for the bride’s occupation, but not those of the mothers of the couple.
    I don’t think I would press for change. The information the Queen’s subjects (and in Gibraltar, guests) do supply to Master Cromwell’s successors is a precious resource for social historians like Peter Laslett. Equality would mean losing data, not adding it.

  20. Brett Bellmore says

    Well, let’s try evaluating this rationally. Yeah, I know, the very idea strikes you as offensive, but still…

    1. Do conspiracies happen? Sure they do! SMALL conspiracies. Because big ones tend to fall apart and be unsuccessful. So, how many people would this have required? Maybe a half dozen, that’s feasible. The toughest one is the doctor you’d have needed to sign the birth certificate. But, yeah, it would be feasible from a technical standpoint.

    2. Potential for exposure. This is a problem. Nobody would likely have bothered exposing the conspiracy when Obama was a nobody, but once the issue arose, anybody with access to the original birth certificate could have gone public, and made a mint from the tabloids: “I saw Obama’s birth certificate, and there was no footprint on it!” (Or maybe there’s a random baby’s foot print on it?) I suppose an insider could have put the birth certificate on special lockdown, or maybe just by chance everybody in a position to expose it was a loyal Democrat, but this is a real weakness of the theory.

    3. Motive. WHY would they have engaged in the conspiracy? They’d have no reason at the time to think it was important that Obama be thought to have been born in the US. Now, motive is not entirely lacking, if Obama were born elsewhere, it would be somewhat inconvenient, as he’d have had to have been naturalized. (Legal circumstances have changed, since, and if similar events happened today, there’s be no issue if the kid were born abroad.) But to construct a significant conspiracy for mere convenience? People have done stupider things, granted, but this pushes the theory into the realm of implausibility, if not impossibility.

    So, the theory is highly implausible, but NOT impossible, and it’s a big country, implausible things happen every day. So I’m not willing to sign onto this whole “It didn’t happen!” oath you want. But if you offered me 10,000 to one odds, I wouldn’t put any money on it. As I’ve said before, in 2008 one of the candidates wasn’t a natural born American, but it was McCain, not Obama.

    No, my whole interest in this is simply that clause IS in the Constitution, and I don’t accept the idea of unenforceable constitutional clauses nobody is allowed standing to litigate.

  21. calling all toasters says

    Brett plays both parts in this scene–

    Lloyd: What do you think the chances are of Obama not being a US citizen?
    Mary: Well, Lloyd, that’s difficult to say. I mean, we don’t really…
    Lloyd: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are the chances?
    Mary: Not good.
    Lloyd: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?
    Mary: I’d say more like one out of a million.
    [pause]
    Lloyd: So you’re telling me there’s a chance… *YEAH!*

  22. Brett Bellmore says

    Like I said, I think it’s unlikely that he wasn’t born in Hawaii. You want me to swear an oath that I think it’s metaphysically impossible he was born anywhere else? Don’t hold your breath, and I’m not the one being unreasonable here.

  23. Warren Terra says

    Heaven forfend that Brett should be the one being unreasonable here. After all, he is perfectly right that we can’t even prove that the universe exists, let alone where Barack Obama was born.

  24. Dan Staley says

    Truth is much more of a hoot than fiction. I disagree that Brett is a character dreamt up by someone and given e-flesh here. No one is that talented to come up with such a character. No one.

  25. caphilldcne says

    I have a birther friend who basically just doesn’t like Obama. The proper response is to roll your eyes and place his rant on ignore. I do have to note that Obama is quite famously against same sex marriages.

  26. Bernard Yomtov says

    OK Brett,

    You lack absolute, mathematically rigorous proof. That’s all you’re saying, you claim. But:

    1. By your own logic, there is no such thing. No document of any kind can provide it. What is available is as good as any other evidence that could be provided. And of course, you would continue to have that little niggling doubt, no matter what. So what is it you want? In fact, nothing, except to find some absurd grounds to criticize Obama.

    2. What President has provided evidence of being a natural-born citizen that meets the standard you demand of Obama – evidence that could not have been manufactured and authenticated through some sort of complex and wildly improbable conspiracy? Bear in mind that many Presidents – Bush, Kennedy, Roosevelt – were born into quite wealthy families, who had ample means – vastly greater than Obama’s family’s – to finance a conspiracy, and may have had motives such as covering up an illegitimate child born abroad, etc. This seems more plausible, if anything, than an Obama birth conspiracy. Yet somehow the issue has not arisen previously. Wonder why?

  27. Barry says

    Brett Bellmore says:

    “Like I said, I think it’s unlikely that he wasn’t born in Hawaii. You want me to swear an oath that I think it’s metaphysically impossible he was born anywhere else? Don’t hold your breath, and I’m not the one being unreasonable here.”

    What is being pointed out here is that your sudden rush of philosophy and skepticism *only* arises when it’s convenient for your political desires. A specific example here was that you have no good reason to believe in the absolute truth of the ratification of the US constitution, let alone that the text of the ‘copies’ that you’ve seen matches up with the actual original text (if there even is such a thing).

  28. navarro says

    brett’s performance today is 3 parts george carlin and 2 parts mort sahl with a dash of andrew dice clay to give him an ability to keep playing off hecklers. the whole birther routine has always been one of his funniest.

  29. Maurice Meilleur says

    I have a feeling that if we could show that ‘Obama is a natural-born citizen’ is a conclusion that self-interested rational actors would reach in a series of free and fair market exchanges, we could convince Brett to take a stand.

  30. James Wimberley says

    caphilldcne: Good catch on same-sex marriages. I’m not going to correct a spoof. Obama’s position is however “evolving”. There’s enough straw here to make a wingnut brick.

  31. bobbyp says

    I wait with breathless expectation Brett’s demonstration of “mathematical truth” and its application to a non-trivial exercise.

  32. says

    Every mathematical truth depends upon a huge array of assumptions. Ever heard of “non-Euclidean geometry”? Well, you should have heard of it; but if you’re reading this on a computer screen, or on anything that ever passed through a semiconductor, you’re got proof that non-Euclidean geometry is just as “mathematically truthful” as the stuff one learns in tenth grade in US schools.

    Further, it’s easy to make 2 + 2 = 10: Just set the problem in base three.

    Or just watch the satirical ending of Dark Star, with its application of phenomenology to a slightly malfunctioning bomb’s AI, and understand by analogy what Brett really wants demonstrated: That whoever is in the White House is there properly if, and only if, that person is an acceptable delegate to Brett… regardless of electoral systems and results or anything else.

  33. CharlesWT says

    “Further, it’s easy to make 2 + 2 = 11: Just set the problem in base three two.”

    FIFY :)

  34. bobbyp says

    BB: “I don’t accept the idea of unenforceable constitutional clauses nobody is allowed standing to litigate.”

    You might want to take that up with the Roberts Court. At the rate they are going, in the not too distant future no one will have standing to sue anybody for anything.

  35. James Wimberley says

    The crucial factors for the reliability of birth, marriage and death certificates were correctly identified by Master Cromwell, not Mr Congeniality but a great administrator: the strongbox (physical security) and the 3s 3d fine (a fairly low but credible sanction). It’s like the €1 deposit in a supermarket trolley: a lot less than the value of the trolley to a thief, but enough to induce the great majority of shoppers to return the thing empty to a storage bay. Most people want to register these vital events truthfully anyway, but the sanctions convert this majority into an overwhelming one, sweeping in the careless and indifferent. (I knew a couple in Manchester who couldn’t decide on the name of their newborn child. Officialdom gave them a few days’ grace, then ratcheted up the pressure until they settled on one.) You need to have strong (and pretty crazy) principles not to comply. Hospitals, midwives, and ministers of religion also face trouble for not cooperating, and serious trouble for falsification. So any given certificate, issued in a prima facie authentic way by this well-tested and reliable system, is overwhelmingly credible.

  36. Barry says

    I’m still awaiting for Brett to cough up proof of this ‘constitution’ he keeps harping on, and proof that any alleged ‘test’ of this ‘constitution’ is the correct text.

  37. Brett Bellmore says

    Honestly, what is it with you guys, that my refusing to accord some kind of metaphysical certitude to Obama’s natural born citizenship drives you so crazy?

  38. navarro says

    @brett–you haven’t driven me crazy. i for one have been laughing over the fact that your phraseology denies metaphysical certitude to any event you haven’t personally witnessed. for all you know, every single response on this blog has been generated by a solitary author who may or may not be the individual who is running electrical impulses simulating reality to your brain which is currently sitting in a jar in a lab. indeed, were i to be working from the same philosophical position you’ve taken, i could speculate that your responses, along with all the other responses on this blog, are generated by the individual who is running electrical impulses simulating reality to my brain which is currently sitting in a jar in a lab. the possibilities for hilarity are almost boundless.

  39. Brett Bellmore says

    “or all you know, every single response on this blog has been generated by a solitary author who may or may not be the individual who is running electrical impulses simulating reality to your brain which is currently sitting in a jar in a lab.”

    Yeah, I’m open to that possibility, but I don’t see much point in paying it much attention. Kind of like the scenario where the Earth was created five minutes ago by an entity only known as “Bob”, complete with all memories and records of a past existence, there’s no point in devoting any time to hypotheses which by their very nature won’t provide you with any evidence.

    Which is all very entertaining for sophomores to talk about on a Saturday night over Dew and nachos, but it doesn’t explain the fury at my refusing to recite the “Obama was born in Hawaii, and there’s no doubt at all about it!” liberal oath. Except that it’s another marker that I’m not a member of your tribe.

    I have no particular reason to doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii, beyond the same reason that’s got so many people doubting it: The vast resources devoted to making sure the birth certificate stays hidden. The main difference between myself and the “birthers” is that I can see that there are numerous explanations for that waste of layering which don’t depend on Obama being born somewhere else. Heck, just the fact that it drives a lot of conservatives batty would be enough explanation, it’s not like Obama is averse to wasting other people’s money for his amusement.

  40. navarro says

    @brett– i think the part that some people are getting hung up on is this line–

    “Obama ought to have to prove he’s a native born citizen, and he can!“

    i think if you could explain in what sense he can do more than he already has under the laws of the state of hawaii as they presently exist you might lose some of the hostility. i’d be curious to see your response to that. i predict you will change the subject in your response to maximize mirth, but i’ve been wrong before and likely will again.

  41. Barry says

    Brett Bellmore says:

    “Honestly, what is it with you guys, that my refusing to accord some kind of metaphysical certitude to Obama’s natural born citizenship drives you so crazy?”

    It’s not driving us crazy, just disgusted (or more deeply disgusted). It’s pretty clear that Mr. Super Skeptic dons his cape made of proveittome only when it fits in which his political beliefs.

  42. Bernard Yomtov says

    Brett,

    The vast resources devoted to making sure the birth certificate stays hidden.

    What vast resources? Skeptical Old Brett isn’t buying that $2 million or whatever it is claim is he?

    I mean, World Net Daily? Really. So the strategy is:

    1. Tell a lie.
    2. Make up a story supporting the lie
    3. Deny you’ve lied, but claim doubt because of the story.

    Pathetic.

  43. Maurice Meilleur says

    No, Brett, the main difference between you and the birthers is that they think Obama’s hiding proof of his real citizenship as part of some Islamo-Kenyan-Black Nationalist-socialist plot to take over the US. You think he’s doing it to piss you off.

  44. Brett Bellmore says

    Not quite, as it doesn’t particularly piss me off. I’m actually more pissed off by judges determined to deny that anybody has standing to get large parts of the Constitution enforced in court. On the reasoning that nobody has standing to challenge something that harms *everybody*.