A federal appeals court ruled to temporarily suspend a judge’s ban overturning the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibits openly gay and lesbian individuals from serving in the military.
The U.S. Justice Department filed an emergency motion with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the decision, arguing the injunction on the policy has caused “confusion and uncertainty” in the Pentagon and the military, according to the appeals filing.
The three-judge panel approved the short-term motion to stay while they study the issue and consider suspending the injunction for a longer period.
U.S. District Judge Virginia Philips issued a worldwide ban on the policy Oct. 12, coinciding with National Coming Out Week on campuses such as the University of Wisconsin.
The DOJ asked Philips to suspend the ban Tuesday, but Philips denied the motion, so the attorney general’s office appealed the decision to the 2nd Circuit.
The Justice Department argued the injunction could jeopardize policy and protocol training in the military.
“Effectively developing proper training and guidance with respect to a change in policy will take time and effort,” the court papers said. “The district court’s injunction does not permit sufficient time for such training to occur, especially for commanders and servicemembers serving in active combat.”
Philips had ruled the ban unconstitutional in September, and the October injunction required the Pentagon to cease enforcing the policy, which it did.
President Barack Obama, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have previously supported repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, but they still believe it should be the responsibility of the Legislature to end the policy, according to the court filing.
The Obama administration pushed for legislation that would repeal the policy, but it was blocked by Republicans in the Senate in September.
Even following the injunction, gay and lesbian organizations cautioned service members from coming out immediately and urged them instead to act cautiously.
Servicemembers United, the largest organizations for gay and lesbian military members in the country, issued a statement following the injunction telling members “don’t ask, don’t tell” remained a risk.
The organization told service members they should not come out, and they remained vulnerable while the Justice Department considered filing a motion to stay.