NEW YORK -- Colin Powell said Wednesday that he supports same-sex marriage.
"I have no problem with it," Powell said in a CNN interview. "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, who served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush and later endorsed Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, said that he has a lot of gay friends in stable relationships who are raising children.
"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," he said.
Wednesday's comments mark the first time Powell has come out publicly in support of gay marriage.
Powell, a four-star general, was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1993 when President Bill Clinton implemented the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gay and lesbian members of the US military.
Powell told CNN Wednesday that he supported the policy at the time as a compromise "to get us out of an even worse outcome that could have occurred." He supported the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 2010.
Powell, 75, who is currently promoting his new book "It Worked for Me," made headlines earlier in the week when he declined to officially endorse Obama for re-election, saying he was still assessing the two candidates.