In an interview with Wolf Blitzer today, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that he believes gay couples should be able to get married. Powell served under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005 following serving as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under both H.W. Bush and Clinton. Powell stated, in no uncertain terms, “I support the president’s decision.”
I have no problem with it. And it was the congress that imposed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It was certainly my position, and my recommendation, to get out us of an even worse outcome that could have occurred, if you’ll recall. But, as I’ve thought about gay marriage, I know a lot of friends who are individually gay but are in partnerships with loved ones. And they are 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 has a long standing history as a moderate Republican; he supports a woman’s right to choose, and in some ways it makes sense that he chose now to come out in favor of gay marriage. Though Powell was a key player in Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, he revised his opinions in early 2010 and favored a repeal of the legislation. As a moderate he is gravitating towards what is becoming a moderate opinion. “I think most Americans increasingly understand that times have changed,” Powell said.
Powell has already upset the Republican boat in 2008 when he endorsed Barack Obama for President, despite rumors that he might be an appropriate runningmate for John McCain. Powell told Meet the Press that he was impressed by Obama’s “…ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America.”
After Obama’s announcement that he supported the right of same-sex couples to marry, many pundits immediately expressed doubt over how his statement would impact his popularity with black religious voters. That may be part of Powell’s move today; an attempt to prove that messages of equality are relevant to everyone, not just white liberal voters. As someone who’s retained immense public and political respect even after his retirement from politics in 2004, Powell’s endorsement once again of Obama and his beliefs has reminded us that the mission of all American citizens living equally under the law doesn’t have to fracture along party lines.