Sen. Russ Feingold, a potential presidential candidate, said Tuesday he supports giving gays and lesbians the right to marry, again positioning himself to the left of possible 2008 rivals.

"Gay and lesbian people in our country are fighting a mean-spirited movement to harm them and to discriminate against them," Feingold, D-Wis., said in a telephone interview. "I stand with them against that movement, and I'm proud to stand with them."

Feingold said he decided to express his support for gay marriage in response to a Wisconsin constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions, which will appear on the state ballot in November.