Retired Gen. Colin Powell backs Obama move on gays in military.

Washington — The retired general whose opposition deflected the last…

Washington — The retired general whose opposition deflected the last serious bid to let homosexuals serve openly in the U.S. military, Colin Powell, reversed himself on Wednesday and backed President Barack Obama’s move to repeal the restrictions on gays.

Powell’s intervention followed by one day an announcement of support for Obama’s proposal by Pentagon chief Robert Gates and a strong appeal to let gays serve openly by the nation’s top uniformed officer, Admiral Michael Mullen.

Gates and Mullen spent part of Wednesday trying to defuse opposition in Congress to the move.

Mullen, who says allowing gays to serve openly is “an issue of integrity,” is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the job Powell held in 1993, when he resisted President Clinton’s efforts to lift the ban on gays in the U.S. armed forces.

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