The Obama administration has filed an emergency request asking the federal appeals court to suspend a court order lifting the ban on out gay military personnel.
It has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco to rule on the case today (Wednesday).
California-based US District Judge Virginia Phillips ruled last week that the gay ban must end immediately. Yesterday, she issued a final ruling refusing to stay her order while the government appeals.
The Justice Department, which filed the latest appeal, says it is obliged to defend acts of Congress against court challenges.
Although President Obama has said he wishes to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, his administration says that lifting the ban immediately will harm the repeal effort.
According to Associated Press, the Justice Department argued in its latest appeal that leaving the order in place “would create tremendous uncertainty about the status of servicemembers who may reveal their sexual orientation in reliance on the district court’s decision and injunction”.
It added: “Effectively developing proper training and guidance with respect to a change in policy will take time and effort. The district court’s injunction does not permit sufficient time for such training to occur, especially for commanders and servicemembers serving in active combat.”
The Pentagon has confirmed that sackings of out gay soldiers have been suspended and military recruiters have been told to accept applicants who declare they are gay, although these recruits must be warned of the uncertain legal situation.
Several gay soldiers sacked under the controversial law have already re-enlisted in the military. Lt Dan Choi, the poster boy for the repeal effort, re-enlisted at a recruitment centre in New York yesterday afternoon.