SAN FRANCISCO - US PRESIDENT Barack Obama's administration asked an appeals court on Wednesday to immediately suspend a judge's decision to repeal a ban on gays serving openly in the military.

The US military said on Tuesday it was accepting openly gay recruits for the first time in the country's history, as District Judge Virginia Phillips of California refused to grant the Obama administration a stay on her court order.

The Justice Department urged the appeals court in San Francisco to immediately suspend Judge Phillips's repeal of the controversial 'dont't Ask dont't Tell' policy, while it considered a reversal of her stay decision.

'We respectfully request that the court enter an administrative stay by today... which would maintain the status quo that prevailed before the district court's decision while the court considers the government's stay motion,' it said in a statement.

Mr Obama has long said he plans to scrap the policy, which since 1993 has required gay and lesbian service members to stay quiet about their sexuality or face being kicked out, but he believes it is a matter for Congress. 'The administration... strongly believes that Congress should repeal it,' the Justice Department statement said.

Mr Obama has ordered a review of the implications of lifting the ban, which is due to be completed by the end of the year. In its court filings, the Justice Department laid out the argument that more time was needed to provide forces, especially combat troops, with 'proper training and guidance' with respect to the policy change.

US seeks repeal of suspension