Colin Powell has yet to support President Barack Obama or his party’s presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, in this year’s presidential campaign. But the former Secretary of State voiced his approval of Obama’s support of gay marriage during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday.
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“As I’ve thought about gay marriage, I know a lot of friends who are individually gay but are in partnerships with loved ones,” Powell told Blitzer. “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, however that turns out. it seems to be the laws of the state.”
Powell is remembered for the 1993 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell“policy that was a compromise to then-president Bill Clinton’s wish to lift the ban on gays serving openly in the military outright. Powell opposed gays serving openly in the military at the time over concerns of how it would affect military operations. In a 2010 interview, Bill Clinton said that Powell did not clearly explain how “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would actually work in practice.
This is what Clinton said in a 2010 interview with CBS’s Katie Couric:
“Now, when Colin Powell sold me on don’t ask, don’t tell, here’s what he said it would be. Gay service members would never get in trouble for going to gay bars, marching in gay rights parades as long as they weren’t in uniform.”
“That was what they were promised,” the former president said. “That’s a very different don’t ask, don’t tell than we got.”
“What we got as soon as General Powell retired was this vicious mid- and low-level officer feedback where they–for a year or so–made it worse than it had been before,” Mr. Clinton continued. “Then, they sort of settled down. But the reason I accepted it was because I thought it was better than an absolute ban. And because I was promised it would be better than it was.”
Powell shot back, saying that he did not misrepresent the policy. Moreover, he said that it was not him who enforced the policy, arguing that he retired in 1993 and Clinton had two terms to change it. During his interview with Blitzer on Wednesday, Powell said “it was certainly my position and my recommendation to get us out of an even worse outcome that could have occurred, as you’ll recall.”
“Dont Ask, Don’t Tell,” was repealed by President Barack Obama in 2011.