Washington (CNN) – Colin Powell, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State, has come out in favor of eventually repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gay and lesbian service members.
"In the almost seventeen years since the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed," Powell said in a statement released by his office Wednesday.
Powell added that he believes the ultimate decision about the policy should be made by President Obama, the nation's commander-in-chief; the military's top brass; and Congress.
"I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I will be closely following future hearings, the views of the Service Chiefs and the implementation work being done by the Department of Defense," Powell also said Wednesday.
Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday, Gates and Mullen said the military is preparing for a repeal of the policy.
Mullen told senators it is his "personal belief" that "allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly [in the military] would be the right thing to do."
"The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it," Defense Secretary Gates told senators Tuesday. "We have received our orders from the commander in chief and we are moving out accordingly."
The ultimate decision about repealing the policy rests with Capitol Hill. Last week during his first State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."