Biden Blames Politics For Inability To End Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Discharges While Policy Is Being Repealed

Earlier this evening, during an appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show, Vice President Joe Biden expressed confidence that the Senate will pass the defense authorization bill and repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, saying that “everyone who was fired should be able to be reinstated if they wanted to.” But when Maddow asked Biden why the administration won’t order the military to stop discharging gay and lesbian servicemembers before the policy is officially repealed in the spring, Biden insisted that Democrats were bound by the existing compromise amendment:

MADDOW: In terms of the timing of that, if that goes as you say it’s possible that it could go. If that repeal happens, the timing is that the Defense Department is studying the issue through December. They’ve got another, I think, 60 days or something that they– after which they would have to delay any repeal process. So, we’d be looking at, best-case scenario for repeal, would be sometime in the spring. With the policy under such intense scrutiny, that study underway at the Defense Department, progress being made both in the courts and politically, why not suspend the discharges of people under the policy now, pending that Defense Department review? Why keep kicking people out now while all of this movement is happening towards ending the policy?

BIDEN: Because that is the compromise we basically had to make to get the votes to finally repeal it. In other words, everybody’s looking for, in my view, if I could just wave a wand, it would just be flat repeal. No one else would be able to suspend it. And everyone who was suspended would be able to come back if they wanted to. But the truth of the matter is, we had to build a consensus for this. Working very hard on the telephone. Calling people. And everybody’s looking forward to the orderly elimination of this law. I would prefer it not be orderly. I prefer it just end, boom, done. But that’s why that hasn’t happened. It’s resulted in us getting over 55 votes, I think we’ll get 55 vote, to flat repeal it.

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Despite Biden’s explanation, many activists have argued that Obama could sign an executive order banning further military separations or increase the thresholds for separations.