“Today’s action doesn’t solve this issue,” Marco Ciavolino, a staffer at the Terry Lakin Action Fund, told the Colorado Independent in response to news that President Obama released an image of his “long-form” birth certificate today. “The first thing is, you know, why did the president wait so long to release this birth certificate? The other immediate thing is that there is no physical copy to inspect, so far. It’s just a pdf. So here we go again,” he said, laughing. “It’s really not that hard.”
Greeley native and former Army doctor Terry Lakin made a splash last year when he said he would refuse orders to deploy to Afghanistan until he was presented convincing evidence, including the alleged missing long-form birth certificate, demonstrating that Obama was born in Hawaii. Lakin was the highest ranking member of the active-duty military to subscribe to the so-called birther conspiracy, which holds that the birth records of the president are illegitimate or have been falsified.
Shortly after he declared his intentions to the press, Lakin was met at the Pentagon clinic where he worked by officers who read him his rights and revoked his access to the building. Military investigators also reportedly seized his computer. Lakin was later court martialed, dismissed from the service without pay or benefits and sentenced to six months at the Leavenworth brig.
Lakin has a child and wife who visit him in prison. The Lakin Fund posts a diary Lakin writes of his life in Leavenworth and his continuing belief that Obama has been less than forthright about his citizenship.
Commentators like Colorado conservative talk radio host Peter Boyles see Lakin as an American hero in search of the truth. Others see his story as a contemporary American tragedy, where a military medal winner has thrown away a distinguished career, hypnotized by the anti-Obama theories that have cropped up and been repeated endlessly on the right since Obama took office, including that the president is a closet Muslim and that he was born in Kenya.
In recent weeks, birther speculation has flared again, fueled by the proto-presidential campaign of Donald Trump, who has rehashed the arguments at high-profile media outlets.
Obama said media coverage of birtherism generated by Trump and apparently irresistible to political reporters spurred him to request his birth certificate this month and to post it online. He said the nation faced real challenges but was being distracted by “sideshows and carnival barkers.”
“We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” he said. “We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do.”
Few, including the president, believe the release of the certificate will end the debate, especially among true believers like Lakin who have invested so much in the theory.
“I’m hearing that there are some anomalies on this birth certificate,” Ciavolino said today. “I’m waiting for our people to weigh in and then we’ll post something on the site.
“The main thing is, even if this birth certificate is legitimate, it doesn’t address the question about whether [Obama] is a natural-born citizen of the United States. This is about the Constitution. The Constitutional question has never been addressed by the courts.”
Although the term “natural born citizen” is not specifically defined in the Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution states that anyone born in the U.S. is a citizen.
Ciavolino points to the views expressed by Alan Keyes, who ran against Obama for the Illinois Senate and who argues that some of the Founding Fathers thought the term “natural-born” meant that two parents would have had to be citizens. Keyes will not be satisfied, he said, until the matter is decided in court.
“You go to court and present the evidence. There is an issue of law as well as fact…. You present the evidence, then a determination can be made…The American people want to see the Constitution respected, want them to go through the steps required and look at all the evidence and all the arguments and come to an authoritative judgment, not one that’s all piecemeal, where judges say it’s been Twittered about or politicians declaim or celebrity figures like Trump come out. That is not suitable.”