NBC News and news services

WASHINGTON — Pentagon officials prepared Thursday to roll out new guidance regarding gays serving in the military while a challenge to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy works its way through the judicial system.

Defense Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said he expected the guidelines be announced later in the day.

The move comes a day after a federal appeals court ruled to freeze a judge’s order halting the policy, even as the Pentagon had already informed recruiters to accept openly gay recruits and suspended discharge proceedings for gay service members.

Pentagon officials told NBC News on Thursday the military will immediately resume enforcement of the 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule. The policy says gays may serve but only if they keep secret their sexual orientation.

One senior Pentagon official told NBC News that recruiters were allowed to accept applications from gay individuals, but those who were openly gay would not be permitted to enlist.

New guidelines are expected to give the military its direction until the courts weigh in.

On Wednesday, the appellate court instructed lawyers for the gay rights group that brought the lawsuit successfully challenging the policy to file arguments in response by Monday.

The judges would then decide whether to extend the temporary stay while it considers the government’s appeal of U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ ruling that the policy was unconstitutional.

Government lawyers argue that striking down the policy and ordering the Pentagon to immediately allow openly gay service members could harm troop morale and unit cohesion when the military is fighting two wars.

President Barack Obama said last week that the Clinton-era law “will end on my watch” but added that “it has to be done in a way that is orderly, because we are involved in a war right now.” He said he supports repeal of the policy, but only after careful review and an act of Congress.

The brief order was signed by the three 9th Circuit judges hearing emergency motions this month: Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain and Stephen S. Trott, who were appointed by President Ronald Reagan, and William A. Fletcher, an appointee of President Bill Clinton.

Above Courtesy of: NBC News chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

I don’t understand what the problem is for gay people to serve in the military.  After all shouldn’t people be glad that someone wants to give their life to protect another?  The USA is backwards in its thinking, thanks to the Christian Rights movement.  What happened to Church & State being separate?  Did we forget to follow the Constitution?