President Barack Obama says the ban on gays openly serving in the U.S. military will end, as he put it, "on my watch" during his administration.
Mr. Obama told a television town hall meeting Thursday that no one should have to lie about who he or she is to serve in the armed forces.
But he said he cannot scrap the ban with the "stroke of a pen", saying that it has to be done in an orderly way and that laws cannot be ignored.
The Justice Department asked a federal judge Thursday to stay her decision to allow gays to serve openly in the military while it files an appeal against her ruling.
U.S. District Judge Virginia Philips ruled this week that the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell" is unconstitutional and that the Pentagon must stop implementing it.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said letting gays to serve in the open could have enormous consequences for U.S. forces. He says changing the policy requires careful preparation.
Former President Bill Clinton introduced the policy in 1993. It bars the Pentagon from inquiring about the sexual orientation of servicemen and women. But those who are discovered to be gay or disclose that they are gay are discharged.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.