Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced Thursday that the restart of the policy that bans open gay service will be in the hands of six officials.

The ban, known as “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” was revived Wednesday at least temporarily by the Obama administration when the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco granted defendants the stay they sought while the government prepares an appeal to U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips' September ruling striking down the law as unconstitutional and subsequent injunction against its enforcement.

Only the secretaries of the armed forces can authorize a separation under the law, and the Defense Department's top attorney and the undersecretary for Defense for Personnel and Readiness must also be consulted, leaving the policy in the hands of six civilians appointed by the president.

President Barack Obama has said he agrees that the law should be repealed but is pursuing an appeal because he's looking for a “durable” solution from Congress. Repeal advocates remain hopeful that the Senate will act against the law during the lame-duck session after the November midterm elections.

The rule changes are meant to “ensure uniformity and care in the enforcement of 'don't ask, don't tell' law and policy during this period of legal uncertainty,” a senior defense official is quoted by the Army Times.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), said the change could strike a severe blow to the policy.

“This important change could dramatically reduce DADT discharges, if DoD applies the Witt legal standard throughout the military, which requires the Pentagon to find that gay service members would harm military readiness, unit cohesion and good order, before they are discharged,” Sarvis said in a statement.

Sarvis also warned gay service members from coming out during this period of uncertainty.

“But this Pentagon guidance memo does not end DADT. It is still in place, and service members should not come out.”

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced it would accept openly gay recruits and several high-profile service members previously discharged under the policy – including Army Lt. Dan Choi – immediately reenlisted.