The Supreme Court announced Friday that it was refusing to block enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military while a federal appeals court considers the issue.
"The application to vacate the stay entered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Nov. 1, 2010 presented to Justice [Anthony] Kennedy and by him referred to the court is denied," a Supreme Court statement said. "Justice [Elena] Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of this application."
The court denied a request from the gay-rights group Log Cabin Republicans to step into the ongoing federal court review of "don't ask, don't tell." The Obama administration urged the high court not to get involved at this point, the Associated Press reported.
"We are greatly disappointed that the Supreme Court has decided to allow this failed and unconstitutional policy to continue," Christian Berle, deputy executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans told National Journal. "We will continue our defense of [U.S. District] Judge Virginia Phillips' ruling that the policy is unconstitutional and we will continue to defense the rights of servicemembers."
President Obama and senior administration officials have long stated their support for a legislative repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," preferring to have Congress approve language that would allow for an "orderly" implementation of what is widely regarded as a dramatic change for the military.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates voiced his preference publicly for the first time this week to have the lame-duck session of Congress repeal the 1993 law before the end of the year. He has ordered a review of the likely impact of repeal across the services and set a Dec. 1 deadline for a report that would submitted to Congress.
Earlier this week, several senators renewed their calls to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and called on the Senate to act "immediately to debate and pass a defense authorization bill" that includes a provision that would end the ban. The repeal language already has passed the House as part of its version of the authorization bill, and cleared the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"If Congress does not act to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell' in an orderly manner that leaves control with our nation's military leaders, a federal judge may do so unilaterally in a way that is disruptive to our troops and ongoing military efforts," Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in a statement.
With Republicans comprising a majority in the House in the next Congress and the Democrats' margin becoming even narrower in the Senate, the senators emphasized the importance of passing the repeal as soon as possible. "And it appears that the only way that can happen is if it is on the defense bill," the senators said.