The US Supreme Court refused on Friday to intervene in the legal battle aimed at ending the military's policy banning gays from openly serving in the armed forces.
The Supreme Court rejected a request from the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay advocacy group, to overrule a previous court decision, effectively keeping the ban in place -- for now, CNN reported.
A federal court in California in September ruled against a 1993 law, known as "don't ask, don't tell", that allows gays to serve in the military provided they keep their sexual preference a secret.
The judge ruled the law violated free speech rights and ordered the Pentagon to stop enforcing the controversial policy and allow gays to serve openly.
President Barack Obama's administration appealed the ruling and was granted a stay from an appeals court pending a hearing of the case. The Supreme Court refused to remove that stay.
Obama has said he also wants to end the law, but wants Congress to repeal "don't ask don't tell" rather than going through the courts.
He expressed concerns that a lengthy, back-and-forth court process would send mixed messages to the Pentagon.
He wants Congress to repeal the law after it returns from recess Nov 15. Democratic efforts to repeal the law were blocked by Republicans in September.
The Pentagon has also begun moving to end the law, and established a task force to develop a plan for a smooth transition to phase out "don't ask, don't tell". The commission is due to complete its report Dec 1.