Getting a copy of my birth certificate; am I still a real American?

Milwaukee County has some obtuse requirements to get a marriage certificate. For some reason, you need to have both your birth certificate and your Social Security card. I’ll also need a “filed copy of the final judgment of divorce,” as I had one of them happen. But it’s the birth certificate that’s the real item of interest. How can they know at the county courthouse that I’m showing them the real certificate? I did get one from Johnson County, Kansas, and it looks a lot like the slightly disintegrated original that I have. But it’s not the original. And if I show that to the people at the courthouse, well, they might not accept it. They’ll look at me, maybe squint a few times, and say, “Are you sure you were born in the United States? Your ancestors, if they really were Hessians, you know, they came from Germany. Or actually, Prussia, if it was Prussia back then. You know, that’s not America, son. I’m afraid we can’t give you a marriage license until you can prove you’re a real American.”

Normally at this time I’d whip out the new copy of my birth certificate. But nowadays, with all the “birther” mania sweeping the nation like some hyper-patriotic strain of swine flu, that doesn’t work. “No, son, I’m sorry, this is not the original. Why won’t you show us the original?” Well, I’d say, I have my passport right here. You have to be an American citizen to get one. “It’s fake. I can tell by looking at it.” (I actually have yet to remove it from my pocket at this time.)

But back to reality. (Hmm, no “birthers” here…) Why on earth does the County require people to have both their birth certificate and their Social Security card to get a marriage license? If the two parties seeking the license are willing accomplices applicants, that should be all they need. Instead of making this easy for me, though, the County requires me to do a bunch of paperwork to get some odd little slips of paper that I don’t have. It seems Milwaukee County wants us to fly out to Vegas, where we would not need these slips of paper, and spend money out there rather than have a nice little event here in Milwaukee and keep the money local. The way Scott Walker tells it, Milwaukee County won’t be worth the scrip it issues when the buses are cut by successive thirds and the parks are privatized. It would help keep money in the county if these rules were not in place.

But things are under way. I’ll get a new Social Security card next. So far, no one has cast doubt upon the validity of my passport or my (new) birth certificate.

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Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.

2 thoughts on “Getting a copy of my birth certificate; am I still a real American?”

  1. Hm…looking around, it looks like the birth certificate is now required statewide. I’m pretty sure it was only required for younger people (<25 or so) the last time around.

    The social security *card* seems unique to Milwaukee–you need a *number* elsewhere, but not the actual card.

  2. The more documents, the more that Walker can charge. Fixing up the parks for the eventual buyers costs money you know.

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