(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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As a long time blue-collar democrat, I'm sick and tired of being associated with the devolution of the value system in America.
This is not a communist country, Obama.
Romney has my vote
problem is, marriage is not a "contract" it is a covenant blessed by God. Two gays or lesbians rolling in the sack is not a covenant, but debauchery and sinful.
Colin Powell,same guy that sold us Anthrax scare before invading Iraq.
Remember him holding that vial in UN???
To the folks who claim Mr. Powell isn't a Republican: you're just unfamiliar with that rare animal–the intelligent Republican.
I really don't like his phrasing. "I have no problem with it"
You wouldn't say "I have no problem with equal rights for blacks."
You should say, " I believe that gays should have equal rights!" and "I believe that blacks should have equal rights!"
He was outstanding combat leader and is a fine statesman. He is smart and honorable and looks for the best in our country. He should be the voice of the republican party, but it has been hijacked by religious extremists who are bent on pushing their religion's tenents on everyone else. He spoke here about public policy and contracts, distinguishing them from religious requirements. Naturally, many commentors, presumably good Christians, had to make remarks about his anus. Imagine that.
Served 6 years in the Air Force and Colin Powell is not about to change my views on gays. I will not let the minority sway my personal views. Some Republicans agree with this crap only because it's been shoved down their throats from the left. If they disagreed it would not be Politically Correct. Fight for your Country!
WE GET IT! THERE ARE GAYS IN THE WORLD! I now understand and will stare at one each time i come in contact with one. Fireworks the whole shebang. JUST STOP THE SHOVING THE GAY THING DOWN ARE THROATS! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
SEMPER FI to all open, out, loud and proud Gay Marines.
..and thank you to all the gay soldiers down at BAMC recovering from their wounds.
I have to laugh at the caustic and derogatory comments from posters who haven't accomplished a fraction of the success that General Powell has achieved.
Wow> What's with all the anti-Powell comments? Frankly, this man has proven himself to be one of the most dignified Republicans around. Bravo, General Powell.
I knew I liked Colin Powell. He supports legal equality for all U.S. citizens. Colin, you rock!
I am so happy to see a high profile Republican who has an open mind and heart. Good on you, Sir! I hope your assertions encourage other conservatives to voice their support for gay marriage.
Wish he would have ran for president. Also can the government just call it civil union or whatever the hell you want and say gay couples can get hitched by the justice of the peace etc. The government has no right nor need to be involved in this crap. Let the churches decide who to marry and let the government recognize the benefits that "married" gay couples deserve. The states and the fed spent entirely too much time and money fighting over this stupidity.
JFK challeneged the nation to go to the moon ,,, This administrtion is a joke
Nothing against contracts, but why call it "marriage" ? Marriage belongs in a church, find a church to marry you and call it "marriage" but if you want contracts call them "contracts". It's easy to understand unless you're obsessed with living someone else's life.
Sounds reasonable. General Powell is a logical voice of reason. The law should recognize people equally and not discriminate so gays should be allowed to be married. That doesn't mean that a particular church has to marry gays. They can do what they want in their church.
He lost my vote and respect.... for SURE
What do you expect from a guy named "Colin"
Wow, the level of vitriol here is remarkable from the trolls that have been spamming these stories lately.
just another black man with support for Obama... Powell was a rep. but has always had obama's back. Don't expect anything else from this man.
I still wonder why this guy continues to pretend he is a republican.
Oh boy, look at all the conservatives cursing him and throwing gay slurs at him. Powell has the GOP's panties in a twist once again.
Awesome! Just another step in the right direction. Thank you sir.
What gives anyone the right to decide who should or should not get married when they love each other? The world is full of different kinds of people. That fact will never change regardless of your individual beliefs. Nobody on this planet has a right to decide who anybody can have a relationship with or marry. If you don't understand that simple concept then ask yourself if you beileve some stranger should have told you who you can or cannot marry. It wasn't that long ago that different races were not allowed to legally marry in this country, but I'm sure many of you still believe that law should still be on the books as well. When I think about the important things that people should concern themselves with arguing about Gay marriage isn't even on the list and is a complete waste of all of our time. Newsflash, they don't want to get married to offend you, they want to get married because it's the only legal way to protect assets in a relationship. The reason why Colin Powell will not run for president is because he has a firm understanding of the type of people who compose the majority of his political party and it bewilders him to no end (thats a poke at you YAWN). They can't stop at the things that make sense, they have to go so far past it they look like the christian version of a radical muslim, of course they only bomb abortion clinics instead of farmers markets to promote their hatred but they both fear education and knowledge, especially when it does not conform to what they beleive as the only truth. The human race consists of 2 steps forward and 10 steps back.