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updated: 9/1/2011 12:59 PM

Calif. court hears arguments on gay troop ban

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Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court is wrestling with whether it can declare the military's ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional when the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is lifted in 19 days.

The panel with the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals took about 45 minutes of arguments Thursday.

A lawyer for the gay rights group Log Cabin Republicans told the panel it needed to weigh in on the ban's civil rights implications because lawmakers could decide at some point to reinstate "don't ask, don't tell," which will be repealed on Sept. 20.

A Justice Department attorney countered that the court should not issue a decision based on speculation about what might happen in the future.