FILE - In this March 26, 2007 file photo, Andrew Chapin of New York City takes part in a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington supporting legislative efforts to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gay soldiers. National security adviser James Jones says President Barack Obama is committed to taking on the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays serving openly in the military. But Jones says the president has many other pressing matters on his desk, including wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, file)
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 Wednesday 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 end the policy by gay rights supporters.
The panel also noted that Congress repealed the policy in December and that the Pentagon is preparing to certify that it is ready to welcome gay military personnel.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, which came in a lawsuit filed by a gay rights group, on the timeline for eliminating the ban.