By Gregory Wallace, CNN
(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.”
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 diplimatic relations.”