Phoenix: Arizona lawmakers expressing doubt over whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States are pushing a bill through the legislature that would require the President to show his birth certificate to get on the state`s 2012 ballot.
The state House passed the measure on Wednesday on a 31-29 vote, ignoring protests from opponents who said it`s casting Arizona in an ugly light and could give the elected secretary of state broad powers to kick a presidential candidate off the ballot.
"We`re becoming a national joke,” said state Rep Chad Campbell, who opposes the measure.
The measure`s sponsor, Rep Judy Burges, said she isn`t sure if Obama could prove his eligibility for the ballot in Arizona and wants to erase all doubts.
"You have half the population who thinks everything is fine, and you have the other half the population who has had doubts built up in their mind," Burges said.
Rep Tom Chabin pleaded with his colleagues to oppose the birth certificate measure on Wednesday, saying every vote of support would be interpreted as an expression of doubt about Obama`s citizenship.
"When you undermine the sitting President of the United States you undermine our nation and it makes us look very ugly," Chabin said yesterday.
So-called "birthers" have contended since the 2008 Presidential campaign that Obama is ineligible to be president because, they argue, he was actually born in Kenya, his father`s homeland. The Constitution says that a person must be a "natural-born citizen" to be eligible for the presidency.
Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama`s citizenship, and his Hawaiian birth certificate has been made public along with birth notices from two Honolulu newspapers published within days of his birth in August 1961.
Courts have rebuffed lawsuits challenging Obama`s eligibility, but the issue hasn`t gone away. Lawmakers have introduced similar bills in a handful of other states, including Oklahoma and Missouri. In Oklahoma, a measure passed the House but failed in the Senate. In Missouri, a bill was withdrawn before any action was taken.
Eleven US House Republicans have signed on to a federal bill, but it hasn`t received a hearing in the Democrat-controlled House.
Arizona`s measure would require US presidential candidates to submit documents to the secretary of state proving they meet the constitutional requirements to be president. The secretary of state could decide to keep a candidate off the Arizona ballot if he or she had reasonable cause to believe the candidate was ineligible.