A federal appeals court ordered the U.S. government on Wednesday to immediately cease enforcing the ban on openly gay members of the military, a move that could speed the end of the 17-year-old rule.
Congress repealed the policy in December and the Pentagon is already preparing to welcome gay military personnel, said the ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. There's no longer any purpose for a stay the appeals court had placed on a lower court ruling that overturned "don't ask, don't tell," the judges said.
In the meantime, the court order blocks the military from discharging anyone based on sexual orientation, a Pentagon spokesman said, news that brought relief from gay rights advocates who say there are still dozens of gay or lesbian personnel under investigation.