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Court orders immediate end to 'don't ask, don't tell'

A federal appeals court has barred further enforcement of the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay service members.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said July 6 that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy must be immediately lifted now that the Obama administration says it’s unconstitutional to treat gay Americans differently under the law.

The ruling was the latest legal development in the long-running effort to halt the discriminatory policy.

The panel also noted that Congress repealed the policy in December and that the Pentagon is preparing to certify that it is ready to welcome gay military personnel.

It was not immediately clear what effect the court’s ruling would have on the timeline for eliminating the 18-year-old ban.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights advocacy group.

The ruling “removes all uncertainty – American service members are no longer under threat of discharge as the repeal implementation process goes forward,” said R. Clarke Cooper (pictured), the group’s executive director. “As a captain in the United States Army Reserve, I have observed the reactions of my colleagues to the Department of Defense’s move toward open service, and can say with complete confidence that our military is ready, willing and able to take this step. Log Cabin Republicans are proud of our role in ending this unconstitutional and un-American policy once and for all.”

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