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Court reinstates part of 'don't ask, don't tell'

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • An appeals court temporarily reinstates "don't ask, don't tell"
  • The military won't be allowed to investigate, penalize or discharge anyone under the policy
  • Officials support the repeal of policy, but object to having courts set timing

Washington (CNN) -- A federal appeals court temporarily has reinstated the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bans gays and lesbians from serving in the military, but banned the services from investigating or discharging anyone under the rule.

The 9th U.S. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in California issued the order late Friday after the Obama administration asked it to reconsider its recent order temporarily blocking the policy.

U.S. officials have been moving ahead with dismantling "don't' ask, don't tell" but had objected to having the courts force the government to officially repeal it at this time.

The appellate judges said Friday the military has provided more information on how it would dismantle the policy. The Pentagon is expected to send repeal certification to the president and top officials by early August.

At issue in the complex legal fight is whether "don't ask, don't tell" can remain in effect -- even in name only -- while the legal fight over its constitutionality is being carried out in the federal courts. Judges have been at odds over the enforcement issue for months.

The case has put the Obama administration in an unusual position of supporting a repeal, but at the same time filing court motions to prevent it from happening faster than planned. Military officials suggest the policy compliance changes eliminating "don't ask, don't tell" could be finished in a few weeks.

A gay rights group -- the Log Cabin Republicans -- had sued over the 18-year-old ban on openly gay and lesbian members serving in the U.S. armed forces. In September, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips declared the military's ban to be unconstitutional, and demanded the government immediately stop enforcing it.

The case is Log Cabin Republicans v. U.S. (10-56634).

CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears contributed to this report.