A 3-member Navy panel on Friday voted against discharging Petty Officer 2nd Class Derek Morado, a gay sailor who faced ouster from the military for violating “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”

Morado told The Fresno Bee that his lawyer argued that Morado should stay because the policy that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly was dead.

Congress approved and President Barack Obama signed into law a bill last year that ends the ban. But implementation will not begin until 60 days after the president and Pentagon leaders agree the military is ready for the change. At a House hearing on Friday, military leaders said they expect to implement repeal by summer's end.

Morado was outed as gay in 2009 after he posted a photo of himself kissing another man on the Internet.

“He was just a friend, not a romantic interest,” said Morado, who is stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Station in California.

The military's reasons for not discharging the 26-year-old sailor won't be made public, a Pentagon spokesman said.

The panel considered evidence and testimony for several hours before announcing its unanimous decision, Morado said.

Earlier in the process, Robin McGehee of the gay rights group GetEQUAL had called the proceeding “disgusting.”

“The fact that the Navy is trying to slide one more discharge in under the wire is disgusting, and must be called out for what it is – blatant discrimination and bullying,” she told the paper.