A U.S. federal judge has ordered the Pentagon to stop banning openly gay men and women from serving in the United States military.
U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips issued the ruling Tuesday after declaring last month that the U.S. military policy on gays, known as "don't ask, don't tell," was unconstitutional.
The government had asked Phillips to limit her ruling to members of the gay rights activist group, the Log Cabin Republicans, that filed the suit.
The U.S. government may appeal the ruling. A Pentagon spokesman said the military is studying the case, and will consult with the Justice Department.
President Barack Obama had promised to repeal the ban on openly gay service members during his presidential campaign.
The "don't ask, don't tell" policy was introduced in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton. It prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members, but requires those who acknowledge being gay or who are discovered engaging in homosexual activity to be discharged.
About 13,000 people have been discharged from the military since the policy was enacted.
Phillips said in her ruling last month that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy violates due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as the rights of freedom of speech and association protected by the First Amendment.