(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."
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
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."
Obama campaign expands Bain attack and general election ad buys
Poll: Romney takes lead in Florida
Palin endorses Utah's Hatch in Senate race
Arkansas, Kentucky primaries pose challenge for Obama
Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.
Another reasonable mind at work. Thank you, Colin Powell, for " getting it."
If Powell isn't careful, he will be excommunicated from the GOP/Tea Party by social conservative family values purity extremists.
CNN seems to be putting up news stories of anything that is supportive of Obama. I guess this is that they call "media bias", but might be good business since Obama campaign is buying advertisements on CNN's home page.
Powell isn't endorsing that AMATEUR Obama for a second term – THAT is the REAL headline, yet CNN puts this garbage up. Predictable hacks!
He is a republican, from the past. The republican party of Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and Dole is dead.
Yeah I would suspect Military people support it. I mean they put their lives on the line for our freedoms and rights. I would not want to do that personally if some people are not allowed to be happy when it hurts no one to do so while others are free.
Nice work sir.
No Foe, he's a loyal American, not a koolade drinker...of any flavor.
Great news, and right on the heels of the NAACP announcing its support for gay marriage!
Another sick mind to re-write the natural with the unnatural.
Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman which is recognized in heaven as blessed.I care about the opinion of Almighty God,not politicians and Hollywood types that already have first-class tickets on a hell-bound train.
Thank you General Powell
A general I would serve under.A Republican I could vote for.See how fast he will be labeled a Traitor to the GOP,only because he speaks with reason and logic and proclaims what is only right and fair.
Why can't we get this guy to run for the Republican party?! Oh right – he's too sensible to run for president, which is why we are always left with the lesser of two evils in American politics.
Powell must look like a radical lefty to the Teatrolls, eh? Thanks for sharing your wisdom and common since, General. Too bad the GOP, including and especially Romney, are so backwards.
"Woe unto them who call evil, good, and good, evil"
President or any human being for that matter make a Wrong, Right with their opinion.
THANKS MR. POWELL. As for the rest of the GOP, get on the bandwagon before you're declared obsolete.
In an ideal world, the republican party primary would be between guys like him, john huntsman, chris christie, ron paul, jeb bush, etc. Not the circus act that led the way this year.
Why aren't any of these fools supporting gay "marriage" also getting asked whether they support polygamist or incestuous marriages as well?
This is the path our country is heading down. We are not far from that movement. Mark my words.
@Robert – I don't know that Obama would be buying advertisements on CNN's home page since Obama must know that Time Warner sold Warner Music Group to Bain Capital and Bain Capital is Romney which in the business world I think this was a great business move for Time Warner (own CNN).
Powell is a Republican, but his party has moved so far to the right that he is considered a liberal in their minds. Looks like Powell will be getting the "silent" treatment from the tea party Republicans from this day forward.
Uh, oh. The world just took one more tiny forward. Watch out behind you, baggers.
Way to go Gen!
Mr. Powell is a good, fair and honest man. I really wonder what he thinks about the GOP over the past 3.5 years. I agree with me138..................REALLY...............why on earth is the federal government in my bed room? GET OUT ALREADY and get you some business federal government, and this is for real.
Weinstein, That "AMATEUR" Obama helped pull us back from the brink of another Depression and we have now had 26 consecutive months of private sector job growth after 8 years of Republican rule left us in economic shambles. The stock market is up, oh about 90 % since March of 09 a few weeks after Obama took office and we have now had 9 or so consecutive quarters of economic expansion after the GOP left us in the worst recession since the Great Depression. If that is amateurism, give me more of that. Oh, he nailed that one guy too, what was his name Osama something or other.