The U.S. Department of Defense must immediately halt its Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy of dismissing openly gay service members, a three-judge panel 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled on Wednesday.

Congress voted to repeal the policy in December but has allowed the military time for a lengthy review process, during which openly gay soldiers have still lost their jobs. Wednesday's decision, an appeal of a federal judge Virginia A. Phillips' 2010 ruling that the law was unconstitutional, put pressure on the Obama administration to speed the process. The decision said that the government has had enough to time to prepare the military that can no longer satisfy the demanding standard for issuance of a stay of repeal.

We will, of course, comply with orders of the court, and are taking immediate steps to inform the field of this order, Pentagon Spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said. Implementation of the DADT repeal voted by the Congress and signed in to law by the President last December is proceeding smoothly, is well under way, and certification is just weeks away.