A federal appeals court in California on Wednesday ordered the military to immediately halt enforcement of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly, the AP reported.

The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reversed its own ruling that kept the policy in place after U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled last September that the Pentagon's policy was unconstitutional.

Phillips ruled that “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” has a “direct and deleterious effect” on the armed services and ordered an immediate halt to the policy. The government appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The decision comes just weeks before President Barack Obama is expected to sign certification that the military is ready to end the ban. Under the terms outlined in last December's legislative repeal of the policy, “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” would end 60 days after certification.

Before leaving his post as Secretary of Defense on June 30, Robert Gates said he was prepared to sign off on certification, but decided to leave the task to his successor, Leon Panetta.

“Today's decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is most welcomed,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a group devoted to repealing the Clinton-era law. “It's the hope of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network that this favorable ruling will not be challenged by the Defense Department. In fact, this whole matter could have been avoided had we had certification back in the spring. It's time to get on with that important certification, end the DADT confusion for all service members, and put a final end to this misguided policy.”