Feds want 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' halt stayed

Obama administration: Ending ban immediately would not be 'orderly'


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to reconsider its order last week demanding an immediate halt to the enforcement of the ban on openly gay troops in the military.

The federal government filed the emergency motion Thursday in response to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to lift its stay of a lower court's ruling last year that found the ban, known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," unconstitutional.

The Justice Department urged the court to issue a decision by the end of the day Friday.

Last year, the gay rights group Log Cabin Republicans filed suit against the Department of Justice, calling DADT unconstitutional. The group was able to persuade a lower court judge to declare the ban unconstitutional after a trial that put the Obama administration in the position of defending a policy it opposes.

But Justice Department lawyers said in Thursday's motion that ending the ban now would pre-empt the "orderly process" for rolling back the 17-year-old policy as outlined in the law passed and signed by the president in December.

"Congress made quite clear that it believed the terms of the transition were critical to the credibility and success of this historic policy change, and to ensure continued military effectiveness," according to a statement from the Justice Department.

"Any court-ordered action forced upon the military services so close to the completion of this repeal policy pre-empts the deliberate process established by Congress and the President to ensure an orderly and successful transition of this significant policy change," the department said.

The chiefs of the military services were scheduled to submit their recommendations on the repeal to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week. As soon as the Pentagon certifies that repealing the ban will have no effect on military readiness, the military has 60 days to implement the repeal, which could happen by September.

"It is sad and disappointing that the government continues to try to prevent openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in our armed forces," Log Cabin Republicans attorney Dan Woods said.

"It is particularly disappointing because the President has stated that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' 'weakens' our national security and signed the repeal bill with great fanfare and yet today's filing with the Ninth Circuit is a last-ditch effort to maintain this unconstitutional policy," Woods added.

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