SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court has barred further enforcement of the U.S. military's ban on openly gay service members.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Wednesday the "don't ask, don't tell" policy must be immediately lifted now that the Obama administration says it's unconstitutional to treat gay Americans differently under the law.
The ruling was the latest legal development in the long-running effort to end the policy by gay rights supporters.
The panel also noted that Congress repealed the policy in December and that the Pentagon is preparing to certify that it is ready to welcome gay military personnel.
It was not immediately clear what effect the court's ruling, which came in a lawsuit filed by a gay rights group, on the timeline for eliminating the ban.We've been down this road before. While there is good reason to feel hopeful, it remains to be seen what response will come from the administration or congress.
Aubrey Sarvis of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement Wednesday afternoon, "Make no mistake: DADT is still the law of the land, as long as certification and the subsequent 60-day period have not taken place. If the government appeals this ruling and is successful, service members could be discharged once again. We have urged DoD not to appeal and to get on with certification within days, not weeks. Only with certification and subsequent repeal of the DADT statute will we see a solid, final end to this discriminatory policy."
Sarvis added, "SLDN applauds our allies at the Log Cabin Republicans for their work on this case, and we will continue to work with allied organizations as we remain on guard for attacks on LGBT equality in the military."