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12 October 2010 Last updated at 16:24 ET

US ban on openly gay military personnel suspended
Lt Dan Choi, shown chained to the White House fence Iraq veterans including Lt Dan Choi were among those discharged under the policy

A US judge has ordered a nationwide halt to enforcement of the country's ban on openly gay military personnel.

US District Judge Virginia Phillips last month ruled the "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional.

Under the policy, gay people can serve in the military but face expulsion if they reveal their sexuality.

President Barack Obama and some military leaders have called for it to be overturned. A legislative attempt to do so failed in the Senate last month.

The US Department of Justice has 60 days to appeal but may opt not to do so.

Last month the ban was also ruled unconstitutional by a federal court in Washington state. A judge there ordered the US Air Force to reinstate a nurse sacked under the policy.

Under the policy, established in 1993 under former President Bill Clinton, the US military is forbidden to inquire about service members' sexual orientation, but can expel people discovered to be homosexual.

The lawsuit was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, a pro-gay Republican group, on behalf of openly gay military personnel who had been discharged under the policy.

Overturning the ban, Judge Phillips cited Mr Obama's contention that it weakened national security by forcing qualified military personnel to "live a lie" or have their careers compromised.

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