The Obama administration Thursday asked a federal judge to stay her ruling that would end the Pentagon's ban on openly gay men and women serving in the U.S. military while it appeals the decision.
Judge Virginia Phillips in California on Tuesday ordered the military to stop enforcing its "don't ask, don't tell" policy and drop any pending investigations or discharges after finding that it violated the U.S. Constitution.
President Barack Obama has vowed to repeal the policy and the Defense Department has begun reviewing how to allow gay men and women to serve openly in the military, but officials warned that the injunction could undermine those efforts.
"The precipitous changes to military policy required by the court's injunction would result in a host of significant and immediate harms to the recognized public interest in ensuring that the nation has strong and effective military operations," the administration said in a court filing in California.
The Justice Department filed the stay request on behalf of the administration and typically defends laws on the books even if the president opposes them.
The department also requested the judge issue an administrative stay while she considers a full stay of her ruling.
If Phillips refuses to grant any stay while the government appeals, the Obama administration will ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to block her ruling pending the appeal.
The "don't ask, don't tell" policy was introduced in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and enacted into law, overturning a previous policy of excluding gay men and women altogether based on a premise that homosexuality was incompatible with the military.