The U.S. Justice Department today asked a federal appeals court in San Francisco to grant an immediate stay of a lower court ruling that would halt the government’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy on gays in the military.

The Justice Department filing asks the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a stay by the end of today to block an injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips of Riverside on Tuesday.

Government attorneys wrote that while the Obama administration is seeking to repeal the policy, it would be disruptive to end the policy abruptly by allowing the injunction to go into effect.

The injunction “risks causing significant immediate harm to the military and its efforts to be prepared to implement an orderly repeal of the statute,” the attorneys wrote.

The Obama administration believes that repeal of the policy “should not occur without needed deliberation, advance planning and training,” the lawyers said.

Phillips ruled in a lawsuit filed in 2004 by Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group.
The “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, established by the Clinton administration in 1993, bars military officials from asking about service members’ sexual orientation, but requires the discharge of those who declare themselves to be gay or engage in homosexual activity.

Phillips ruled the policy violates service members’ constitutional privacy and free speech rights. Last night, she declined to stay her injunction. The government is seeking a stay while it appeals her ruling.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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