News from the Department of Defense:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2010 – Given the uncertainty over the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has directed that any discharges under the law be made by the service secretaries in consultation with the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness and the defense general counsel.

More uncertainty over the law looms, as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals approved a stay of an injunction issued October 12 on the law. The court’s action means “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is once again the law of the land after eight days of the injunction.

The court granted a stay of four days, said a senior defense official speaking on background. The temporary stay lasts through Oct. 25 to give the judges the time to look at the government’s request.

The court may extend the stay through the length of the appeals process or allow the injunction –- which would allow openly gay and lesbian servicemembers to serve or openly gay and lesbian people to enlist –- to take effect.

The appeals process typically last 16 months in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, said the defense official. The court “briefing” schedule has the case on the books through March.

“With a case of this magnitude, it may be sooner,” the official said. “Likely [there] could be a decision sometime in 2011, but I can’t predict or control the court’s timetable.”

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