The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to reconsider a verdict ruling that the ban on openly gay troops should end immediately.

Last week, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Pentagon to cease enforcing the ban.

The law is to be fully repealed at some point this year but the Obama administration says the ban should not be lifted until the long repeal process has run its course.

The court ruling said that as the US government and Congress concluded that ban was unconstitutional, it cannot be enforced.

The judgement came in response to a legal case filed by Republican gay group Log Cabin Republicans.

Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in a statement.“The department has filed a motion asking the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its order lifting the stay of the injunction on the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy to avoid short-circuiting the repeal process established by Congress during the final stages of the implementation of repeal.”

She added: “Senior military leaders are expected to make their decision on certifying repeal within the next few weeks.”

R Clarke Cooper, the executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said: “All this does is further confuse the situation for our men and women in uniform.

“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is an offence to American values that should have been gone long ago. It is shameful that a president who has taken credit for opposing the policy is taking extreme measures to keep it on life support.”

President Obama pledged to repeal the 1993 law in his 2008 election campaign but was criticised by gay groups for being slow to act.

In December, the US Senate finally voted to repeal the 17-year ban, which is known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ because it requires gay and lesbian troops to keep their sexuality secret.

More than 13,500 troops have been fired under the law since 1993.