The Obama administration is seeking to limit the effect of a ruling against “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” arguing Thursday that an immediate end would harm the military at a time of war.

In a last-minute filing in California, the Justice Department is seeking to limit the effect of a ruling that declared the 1993 law, which bans gay troops from serving openly, unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled earlier this month that the Pentagon's policy violates the First and Fifth Amendment rights of gay and lesbian service members. She ruled the policy has a “direct and deleterious effect” on the armed forces.

Gay GOP group the Log Cabin Republicans challenged the policy and asked Phillips for a “worldwide, military-wide injunction” against its enforcement.

Government lawyers, however, argued that Phillips' ruling should be limited to the 19,000 members of the Log Cabin Republicans, and that to do otherwise would harm the military.

“A court should not compel the Executive to implement an immediate cessation … without regard for any effect such an abrupt change might have on the military's operations, particularly at a time when the military is engaged in combat operations and other demanding military activities around the globe,” the filing says.

The action comes two days after Congressional Democrats failed to move forward legislative repeal of the policy.

President Obama campaigned on the promise to end the Clinton-era policy, but gay activists are furious that the White House remained mum through most of the debate.

“We are extremely disappointed with the Obama administration,” R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, told the Washington Post. “Many times on the campaign trail, President Obama said he would support the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Now that it's time to step up to the plate, he isn't even in the ballpark.”

Several lawmakers – including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Mark Udall of Colorado – have urged the president not to appeal the ruling.