The Pentagon has warned gay US troops not to declare their sexual orientation just yet.
Despite complying with a court order suspending the firings of gay troops, the Pentagon has said that soldiers who do come out while the law is uncertain may still face punishment.
A publicly-released memo from the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness to military chiefs warned of “adverse consequences” if the court order is reversed.
Clifford Stanley wrote: “We note for service members that altering their personal conduct in this legally uncertain environment may have adverse consequences for themselves or others should the court’s decision be reversed.”
Last Tuesday, US District Judge Virginia Phillips, of California, issued an injunction which ordered the Pentagon to halt sackings of out gay soldiers.
The Obama administration is seeking a stay on the ruling. The president supports lifting the ban but believes it should be repealed by Congress and only after a Pentagon review is completed next month.
President Obama has been accused of “flip-flopping” on his commitment to end the ban by gay groups.
He said last week: “Anybody should be able to serve, and they shouldn’t have to lie about who they are in order to serve.
“But this isn’t a question about whether the policy will end. This policy will end, and it will end on my watch.”
An estimated 13,500 soldiers have been dismissed under the law, which allows gay and lesbian soldiers to serve in the military but bars them from revealing they are gay. In many cases, dismissed soldiers had their sexual orientation revealed by a third party.
Opponents to repealing the law say it will harm recruitment, cohesion and morale at a time when the military is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.