The Supreme Court on Friday denied a gay GOP group's plea to reinstate a lower court's order against enforcement of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 17-year-old law that prohibits gay and bisexual service members from serving openly.

Lawyers for the Log Cabin Republicans made their request late last week after the Ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals in California granted the Obama administration a hold on a trial judge's order to stop enforcing the policy 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. Phillips' ruling set aside enforcement of the policy for 8 days before the higher court acted.

In responding to the plea, Justice Anthony Kennedy gave no hint of how the court views the subject.

The Obama administration urged the court to keep the ban in place, arguing that forcing the military to halt the policy at a time of war would create problems.

“The military should not be required to suddenly and immediately restructure a major personnel policy that has been in place for years, particularly during a time when the nation is involved in combat operations overseas,” Clifford L. Stanley, the under secretary of defense for personnel readiness, wrote in a supporting document for the government.

President Barack Obama has pledged to repeal the law that has ended the military careers of over 13,000 service members, but says he would prefer a legislative solution and has urged Congress to act. Backers of repeal are lobbying senators to take a second look at repeal during the upcoming lame-duck session that begins Monday. But recent GOP gains appear to have emboldened Republican senators who oppose repeal.

According to leaked details of a Pentagon report due on December 1, lifting the ban would cause only minimal problems.