SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Even as federal officials laud the end of the U.S. military's ban on openly gay troops, Justice Department lawyers are trying to dissuade a federal appeals court from deciding if the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was unconstitutional.
They filed a motion Tuesday asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to vacate a lower court ruling last September that found the ban violated the civil rights of gay service members.
The government says the case is moot now that "don't ask, don't tell" is history and the more than 14,000 people discharged under the policy can apply for reinstatement.
The gay political group Log Cabin Republicans, which brought the case, wants the appeals court to address the ban's constitutional implications.
The 9th Circuit heard arguments earlier this month but has not rendered a decision.
Preparations for dropping the ban on gay military service have been in the works so long that Tuesday's official repeal is making few waves inside the military.
The Army, for example, planned a business-as-usual statement saying simply, "The law is repealed." Soldiers are expected to treat each other with dignity and respect -- as always.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, are expected to field questions about the repeal at a Pentagon news conference Tuesday. And congressional supporters of allowing openly gay service scheduled a news conference on Capitol Hill.
President Barack Obama said in July that repeal will not undermine the war-fighting readiness of the military. But opponents of repeal fear it will.
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