In an interview, Powell said he supported the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians in the military when it was first introduced under President Bill Clinton, because it was an alternative to keeping the ban on gays serving in the military. Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time.
"I have no problem with it," he said of gay marriage. "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."
Powell, a Republican, was at one time considered a possible presidential contender. In 2008, Powell, the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, endorsed Barack Obama, the first black major party nominee.
As a private citizen, Powell said he feels no great need to endorse anyone this year. He did criticize Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, for describing Russia as the "No. 1 geopolitical foe" of the United States.