Reacting to news that a federal judge had ordered the Pentagon to halt implementing its ban on gay troops, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the law should be repealed by Congress, not courts.

“I feel very strongly that this is an action that needs to be taken by the Congress, and that it is an action that requires careful preparation and a lot of training,” Gates told reporters traveling with him en route to Belgium from Vietnam, the American Forces Press Service reported. “We have a lot of revision of regulations that has to be done.”

The 1993 law, known as “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” prescribes discharge for gay, lesbian and bisexual service members who do not remain closeted or celibate.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips declared the law unconstitutional. She said the policy has a “direct and deleterious effect” on the armed services.

On Tuesday, she granted plaintiffs, represented by gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans, the injunction they sought. Justice Department lawyers had argued that the order should apply only to Log Cabin members, but Phillips disagreed.

The ruling comes after Democrats in the Senate failed to break a Senator John McCain-led Republican filibuster on legislative repeal of the Clinton-era law.

Gates added that he would like to see the results of an ongoing military survey on implementing repeal before lifting the law.

“This is very complex business,” he said. “It has enormous consequences for our troops. And as I have said from the very beginning, I think there should be legislation, and that legislation should be informed by the review we have under way.”

Phillips' order is likely to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the largest group lobbying for repeal of the policy.

“The law still has a chance of being repealed in the lame duck session of Congress,” Sarvis said in a statement.