Echoing sentiments expressed by gay activists, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned on Thursday that “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” remains in effect.

President Barack Obama signed on Wednesday a bill into law that repeals the military's ban on open gay service.

But the new law's language requires that the president and top Pentagon officials – Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – certify that the military is prepared for repeal. That condition was added in an effort to shore up Republican support for the bill.

“In order to prevent any confusion, I want to be perfectly clear: at this time, there are no new changes to any existing Department of Service policies,” Gates wrote in a memo to troops.

“Service members who alter their personal conduct during this period may face adverse consequences,” he added.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), called on Gates to suspend all investigations during the interim period.

“Now, it's on to finishing the job at the Pentagon. Troops remain at risk under the law. We respectfully renew our call for Secretary Gates to use his authority to suspend all 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' investigations and discharges during this limbo period. Until there is certification and until the 60-day implementation period must be wrapped up no later than the first quarter of 2011,” Sarvis said in a statement.

Gates also said that troops who opposed the new policy will not be allowed to leave the military before their commitment is up.