- (Photo: Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)
A federal appeals court on Monday issued an order, calling on the U.S. government to clarify its stance on the "don’t ask, don't tell" military policy.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is requiring the Obama administration to state whether it will continue to defend the military ban on open homosexuality as constitutional. The order comes less than a week after the same appeals court ruled that the government must immediately stop enforcing the DADT law.
"After reviewing the briefs filed by the parties, it appears to the merits panel that the United States is not prepared to defend the constitutionality of [DADT]," the court said in its order. "The Government argues only that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 ('Repeal Act') is constitutional."
Though the Obama administration is opposed to DADT, which has banned homosexual conduct in the military since 1993, it defended the policy in court in a lawsuit lodged by the Log Cabin Republicans.
The Department of Justice has said that the government is following tradition in defending laws that are challenged.
Last December, however, President Obama signed a law repealing DADT and the Pentagon has been training and preparing the military to allow for the swift implementation of the repeal.
Log Cabin Republicans attorney Dan Woods told The Associated Press that Monday's court order forces the government to take a clear stand on the controversial policy.
"The government has been trying to have it both ways and now the government is not going to be allowed to have it both ways anymore. The court is saying either fish or cut bait."
If the government decides to refrain from further defending the constitutionality of DADT, it must state so in order for Congress to have the opportunity to intervene, the appeals court said. Woods, however, does not expect Congress to take action because it approved repealing the ban last year.
The Pentagon said it would halt enforcement of the ban on openly gay service members in compliance with last Wednesday's ruling by the 9th Circuit Court, which upheld a lower court decision declaring DADT unconstitutional.
Conservative group Family Research Council, meanwhile, has urged President Obama to appeal the ruling, asserting that the decision should be left to Congress and not the courts.
While the legal battle continues, the military is expected to certify in a matter of weeks that lifting the ban on open homosexuality will have no effect on military readiness. That would then pave the way for the repeal to take effect in September.