The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday temporarily halted a judge's order to stop enforcement of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, according to a report from the Associated Press.
The 1993 law bans openly gay men and women from serving in the armed forces.
Ruling in favor of the Justice Department, the court suspended the Oct. 12 decision by U.S. District Judge Virginia Philips, who ruled the law was unconstitutional. Phillips' decision already has prompted a number of gay service members discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" to re-enlist.
Lawyers for Justice argued that Philips' injunction should be suspended until the appeals process is fully carried out. They fear the injunction will encourage service members to reveal their sexual orientation before a final verdict on the matter is reached.
The appeals court gave the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay rights political advocacy group challenging "don't ask, don't tell" and its lawyers, until Monday to file arguments against the latest ruling.
"We view the decision as nothing more than a minor setback," Dan Woods, attorney for the Log Cabin Republicans, told AP. "We didn't come this far to quit now, and we expect that once the 9th Circuit has received and considered full briefing on the government's application for a stay, it will deny that application."
President Obama supports a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," but believes Congress should handle it. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also supports a repeal of the law, and appointed a task force in February to study how the military would implement a lifting of the ban.