(CNN) - Gen. Colin Powell said Wednesday on CNN's "The Situation Room" that he supports legal same-sex marriage, either at the state or federal level.
"I have no problem with it," he said in the interview, which will air at 5 p.m. ET. "In terms of the legal matter of creating a contract between two people that's called marriage, and allowing them to live together with the protection of law, it seems to me is the way we should be moving in this country. And so I support the president's decision."
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President Barack Obama announced his support of same-sex marriage, a change in his position, in early May.
Powell's statements on Wednesday also represented a turning point in his own public statements on the matter. The former secretary of state was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when the military "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" position was implemented.
"It was the Congress that imposed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' it was certainly my position, my recommendation to get us out of an even worse outcome that could have occurred," Powell told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, recalling former President Bill Clinton's support of overturning a ban on military service for gay individuals. After public opposition, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," was seen as a compromise.
Powell said he is aware of religious objections to same-sex marriage, but spoke primarily about it as a matter of public policy.
"I respect the fact that many denominations have different points of view with respect to gay marriage and they can hold that in the sanctity in the place of their religion and not bless them or solemnize them," he said.
He said he has "a lot of friends who are individually gay but are in partnerships with loved ones, and they are as stable a family as my family is and they raise children. And so I don't see any reason not to say that they should be able to get married under the laws of their state or the laws of the country."
In 2010, Powell said he favored a military repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and was in "full support" of Congressional action which resulted in the policy's repeal.
Powell, a moderate Republican who served as secretary of state under former President George W. Bush, sent shockwaves when he endorsed President Barack Obama for president in 2008. He said Wednesday that he is undecided who he will support this November - and as a private citizen, feels little pressure to announce his decision.
But Powell also voiced his disapproval over Romney's previous assertion, in an earlier CNN interview, that Russia is the United States' "number one geopolitical foe."
"I don't think that's the case," Powell said. "Foe means enemy. Now, will we have differences of opinion with the Russians? Yes. Will they get mad at us from time to time, and we get mad at them? That's part of the normal diplomatic relations."
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"In terms of the legal matter of creating a contract between two people that's called marriage, and allowing them to live together with the protection of law, it seems to me is the way we should be moving in this country"
Now where have I heard that explanation before....
The only thing that doesn't make sense about Colin Powell is why he is still a republican!
He is too honorable, intelligent, and well respected to be a republican.
"....that the retirement age should be increased and that the elderly should be put to work or put to death, with no in between."
I do believe you've unlocked the secret of Paulie Ryan's Path to Nowhere. Elimnates need for SS and Medicare at once"
Well, what can I say. God was the consumate capitalist. He built the human body with planned obsolescene in mind. And what do you do with something once it is obsolete, i.e., its economic usefulness is gone? That's right: you throw it away and replace it.
outstanding General....obviously a republican with a working brain. Now if we could only unplug the rest from the collective....
how is bigotry and discrimination a states issue? this didn't work in the 60's and won't fly now
We missed out on having him as the first black president.
Gee, Powell is just like the majority of America!
Colin Powell is a q u e e r democrat hiding in the republican party.
Powell is a guy that has been unduly tarnished by his association with the Republicans and their extremist views and is correct that this is an- Human Rights- law issue, and does not belong in political debate.
On the Russian issue, Romney is -over his head- making the comments he did about Obama and shows us his ineptness in Foreign Policy which would get us into big trouble right from the start!
Colin Powell is a buttfairy democrat hiding inside the republican party.:)
Damn I like Colin Powell. He would never get the republican nomination, but I really wish he would run for president
He needs to just come out and say he's a liberal.
Why didn't this guy ever run for President? He was a loyal Bush foot-soldier who took the fall for Bush's misguided Iraq strategy, and destroyed his career, his party, and the nation in the process. Nobody remembers the dignified leaders that used to represent the GOP and have been swept away by Tea Party ideologues.
Democrats want to talk about gay marriage rather than real issues such as the economy but then again demcorats don't care about jobs anyways. The last 3.5 years prove that.
Well said, Mr Powell, well said!
If we are such a tolerant nation. 50 years ago this would not be accepted talk by yet we still use the law of laid down during prohibition in the same social stigma that help create the government "Reefer Madness" propaganda. :-)
Why didn't this guy ever run for President? He was a loyal Bush foot-soldier who took the fall for Bush's misguided Iraq strategy. He destroyed his political career, his party, and the nation as a result. Nobody remembers the dignified leaders that used to speak for the GOP, they have all been replaced by Tea Party ideologues.
I think the Government should get 100% out of the marriage business.
He's not a republican!!!!!
Of course he does.....he is secretly a Democrat!!
Good on ya Powell!
I seriously find it funny when someone tries to argue against gay marriage. Haha its amusing.
Have you found Iraq's WMDs sitting right next to your lost credibility, yet?
If we are such a tolerant nation. 50 years ago this would not be accepted talk. But we still use the law laid down during prohibition with the same social stigma that help create the government "Reefer Madness" propaganda. :-)
I'm glad he said this. I thought that was the reason he wasn't endorsing Obama. Kudos to you, Mr. Powell.
This is a man who I have for many years respected. Both in the military and civilian life. I am glad he chose to speak on this subject. He is a very wise and intelligent man. He has a good insight to separate laws and religion. Wish he would have ran for President. I truly feel he would have been one of the best. Thank you for all your service to our country.