Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Support Their Kid Wearing Suits

**It shouldn’t take “celebrity” to raise awareness to these issues, but it does help to elevate the conversation to a level of consciousness.

Brangelina’s oldest biological child prefers suits to dresses, and wants to be called John. And the famous couple is totally cool with it.

John Jolie-Pitt at the premiere of 'Unbroken'

John Jolie-Pitt at the premiere of ‘Unbroken’

The oldest biological child of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, named Shiloh and assigned female at birth, has for years been stepping out at red-carpet events and family outings with the multicultural family in sharp suits, boyish attire, and ever-shorter haircuts.

Around the age of 3, the now-8-year-old informed the family that they want to be called John — and everyone in the family has obliged, according to U.K. newspaper The Telegraph. (As such, this article will use the name John Jolie-Pitt, as well.)

When Pitt recently walked the red carpet at the premiere of Jolie’s latest directorial effort,Unbroken, the star was accompanied by three of his children — Pax, Maddox, and John — all dressed in suits and ties.

Jolie first discussed her first-born’s tendency toward things generally considered masculine in 2010, when the Academy Award-winning actress toldVanity Fair that  her child “wants to be a boy. … She thinks she’s one of the brothers.”

The Telegraph used its recent coverage of the Jolie-Pitt family to offer readers advice on how to respond to children of any age who express a desire to be a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. Drawing on an interview with clinical psychologist Linda Blair, the newspaper stresses that it’s most important for parents to accept their child exactly as they are, and not overreact to what some could see as cross-gender tendencies.

It’s possible that children who consistently express a desire to be another gender (rather than simply a preference for toys and clothing commonly associated with the opposite gender) will grow up to be transgender or otherwise gender-nonconforming, but they may also just be exploring their own identity.

“To explore what it means to be both genders is also totally normal,” Blair told the Telegraph. “But the problem is we have suppressed it for so many generations, that people are still uncomfortable with it. You can’t become what you are until you know what you’re not.”

Whether the young Jolie-Pitt will grow up to identify anywhere along a gender-nonconforming or LGBT spectrum is impossible to tell, but one thing is certain — having parents that embrace a child’s curiosity, independence, and self-direction is sure to make that young person’s life easier as they go through the fundamentally human process of discovering who they truly are.

Editor’s note: This article uses “they” as a gender-neutral, singular pronoun in an effort to respect the young Jolie-Pitt’s gender identity, whatever that may end up being. 

Source: The Advocate Magazine, “Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Support Their Kid Wearing Suits,” By Sunnivie Brydum, December 20, 2014, 2:53 PM ET

U.S. Supreme Court denies stay; same-sex marriage in Florida begins Jan. 6

Attorney Stephen Rosenthal, left, explains to the media the real-life consequences of the federal court ruling as Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE, and same-sex couple, Carlos Andrade and husband, Christian Ulvert, right, stands near by. ACLU held a press conference in reaction a federal district court ruling the state's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. CARL JUSTE MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Attorney Stephen Rosenthal, left, explains to the media the real-life consequences of the federal court ruling as Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE, and same-sex couple, Carlos Andrade and husband, Christian Ulvert, right, stands near by. ACLU held a press conference in reaction a federal district court ruling the state’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. CARL JUSTE MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Same-sex marriage will begin Jan. 6 in Florida — the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday evening denied Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s request to Justice Clarence Thomas that he extend a stay preventing the state from recognizing the marriages of eight gay and lesbian couples.

“The application for stay presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied,” the Supreme Court announced Friday night, allowing Florida to become the 36th state, plus the District of Columbia, to recognize same-sex marriage.

In a statement Friday night, Bondi conceded: “Tonight, the United States Supreme Court denied the State’s request for a stay in the case before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Regardless of the ruling, it has always been our goal to have uniformity throughout Florida until the final resolution of the numerous challenges to the voter-approved constitutional amendment on marriage. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has now spoken, and the stay will end on Jan. 5.”

The case, however, isn’t over. Legal arguments haven’t been heard before the 11th Circuit, which hasn’t ruled on the merits of the case.

Also still unresolved: whether clerks in the state’s 67 counties will adhere to the federal court ruling that declared Florida’s gay-marriage ban unconstitutional. The law firm representing the clerks’ association has warned them they could be in violation of Florida law if they issue same-sex marriage licenses before the U.S. Supreme Court settles the issue.

What was clear Friday night is that the Supreme Court refused to extend U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle’s stay allowing same-sex marriage to be recognized in Florida on Jan. 6.

“The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of allowing the injunction to go into effect after Jan. 5,” said attorney Stephen F. Rosenthal of the Miami law firm Podhurst Orseck, who is working with the ACLU of Florida in the case of eight same-sex couples and a Fort Myers widow seeking to have their out-of-state marriages recognized in Florida.

Said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida: “I’m hoping this was Bondi’s last stand. Congratulations to all the people we represented and our great legal team in this historic victory.”

In March, LGBT-rights group SAVE and eight same-sex couples who married elsewhere in the United States sued Florida to recognize their unions: Sloan Grimsley and Joyce Albu of Palm Beach Gardens; Lindsay Myers and Sarah Humlie of Pensacola; Chuck Hunziger and Bob Collier of Broward; Juan Del Hierro and Thomas Gantt Jr. of Miami; Christian Ulvert and Carlos Andrade of Miami; Richard Milstein and Eric Hankin of Miami; Robert Loupo and John Fitzgerald of Miami; and Denise Hueso and Sandra Jean Newson of Miami.

“We’re exhilarated. We’re over the moon. We’re so excited not just for us but for every other couple,” Milstein, a law partner at Akerman in Miami, said Friday night. “We’re beside ourselves. This is so exciting, so great.”

On April 10, the ACLU amended its complaint by adding another plaintiff: Arlene Goldberg of Fort Myers, whose wife, Carol Goldwasser, died March 13. Goldberg and Goldwasser had been partners for 47 years. They moved from the Bronx to Florida in 1989 and married in New York in October 2011. Hinkle ordered Goldwasser’s death certificate to be amended from single woman to married, opening the door for Social Security death benefits.

The ACLU suit eventually was consolidated with a similar federal case involving two couples in North Florida, one already married in Canada and the other wanting to wed.

On Aug. 21, Hinkle of Tallahassee ruled in favor of the couples, throwing out the gay-marriage ban in Florida’s Constitution — approved by 62 percent of voters in 2008 — calling it “an obvious pretext for discrimination.” He stayed his ruling until Jan. 5, giving Bondi time to appeal.

Bondi appealed the case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, which has jurisdiction over Florida, Georgia and Alabama. The appeal hasn’t been heard, but on Dec. 3, three 11th Circuit judges denied Bondi’s request to extend the stay. Bondi this week turned to Thomas, who oversees the 11th Circuit. On Friday night, the high court issued a two-sentence denial of Bondi’s request, noting that justices Thomas and Antonin Scalia would have granted it.

According to the ACLU, once the stay is lifted, Florida must recognize all same-sex marriages performed out of state.

“Every same-sex couple that has been married in another state or another country will have their marriage recognized, and they will qualify for the benefits with marriage: health insurance, pensions, all the practical benefits that come with marriage,” Simon said. “That will happen 12:01 on Jan. 6.”

Also, same-sex couples will now be eligible for Social Security benefits, which are dependent on state laws, Simon said.

“We expect public officials in all of Florida’s 67 counties to understand the significance of this development and look forward to full implementation of Judge Hinkle’s decision across our state,” ACLU of Florida attorney Daniel Tilley said in a statement.

Still not known: Which Florida clerks will issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Top law firm Greenberg Traurig, which represents the Florida Association of Court Clerks, has advised them that only the clerk in Washington County, in rural North Florida — named in Florida’s federal gay-marriage lawsuit — would be bound by Hinkle’s ruling. All other Florida clerks who are not parties in the lawsuit could face “a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment of not more than one year and a fine of not more than $1,000” if they went ahead and married same-sex couples, according to Greenberg Traurig.

Just before the Supreme Court ruled on the stay Friday night, Greenberg Traurig’s Miami-based co-president, Hilarie Bass, told the Miami Herald that the firm supports same-sex couples’ right to marry but made its recommendation to clerks based on Florida law.

South Florida clerks have been vague as to whether they would issue licenses to same-sex couples beginning Jan. 6.

Monroe County Clerk Amy Heavilin has said she wants to be the first clerk in Florida to marry a gay couple, according to spokesman Ron Saunders.

“I’m sure she’d be open to being a historic clerk,” Saunders said. “Amy Heavilin has personally approved us staying open longer than normal hours, and she will be the one to perform the ceremony.”

Broward Clerk Howard Forman has said his Fort Lauderdale office is ready to go. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand,” he said.

Miami-Dade Clerk Harvey Ruvin says he will issue licenses if directed by the court.

“It is unfortunate that this change is happening in a confusing, inconsistent and somewhat frustrating manner, causing pain and loss of patience for many of our citizens,” Ruvin said in an email Wednesday to Palm Beach Clerk Sharon R. Bock. “In my view, our only option is to remain hopeful that the COURTS will resolve that confusion in a timely manner.”

Source: Miami Herald, “U.S. Supreme Court denies stay; same-sex marriage in Florida begins Jan. 6,” By Steve Rothaus, 12/19/2014 7:12 PM, 12/20/2014 8:45 AM

40 People Who Show 2014 Was a Year for Breaking Gender Rules

Ask anyone in LGBT media and they’ll you: Trans visibility is on the upswing in a huge way. Last year The Advocate established a dedicated Transgender channel on this site to better capture how much was and still is going on in the lives and art of trans movers and shakers. The result has been powerful.

Daily accounts of local or national political gains, achievements in arts or sports, and simple, sweet stories of pride and everyday family love have poured in throughout the year. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the most bold, heartwarming, and eye-opening accomplishments from trans and gender-nonconforming people in 2014.

While there has also been an equal number of stories of tragedy — particularly in the ongoing epidemic of violence against trans women of color in the U.S. and worldwide — we’ve focused here on the increasing positive presence of trans people’s stories being told to an ever-larger public audience. Celebrating and elevating the lives of trans people is just one part of creating a world where antritrans violence is altogether eradictated.

To read on to learn about some of our heroes, please click here: the activists, artists, journalists, and everyday men and women who made 2014 one of the best years yet for trans visibility and equality.

Source: The Advocate, “40 People Who Show 2014 Was a Year for Breaking Gender Rules,” By Mitch Kellaway, December 15, 2014 6:00 AM ET

Winning the battle | Local gay couples tie knot after long wait for equality

Anita Blanchard, left, and Diane McMullin prepare dinner in their Durango home. They say they have been married in their hearts for 21 years. They were finally able to sign legal paperwork Oct. 9 to make it official.

Anita Blanchard, left, and Diane McMullin prepare dinner in their Durango home. They say they have been married in their hearts for 21 years. They were finally able to sign legal paperwork Oct. 9 to make it official.

Marriage equality has been decades in the making for local same-sex couples, but when it came to Colorado in October, they met the news with surprise and excitement.

Chris Gonzalez, left, and Nancy Fritz, hold a marriage license they got in October at the La Plata County Clerk & Recorder’s Office.

Chris Gonzalez, left, and Nancy Fritz, hold a marriage license they got in October at the La Plata County Clerk & Recorder’s Office. JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals on same-sex marriage bans in five states Oct. 6, opening the door to gay marriage in Colorado.

Across the country, the scales seem to be tipping in favor of marriage equality. Same-sex marriage is legal in more than 30 states with judges striking down bans in Mississippi and Arkansas at the end of November.

In Texas, the county clerk for the San Antonio area said he was ready to start issuing licenses Wednesday, pending a decision by the judge for the western district of the state, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

The national trend toward equality for gay couples is one locals appreciate.

“I think we’re winning the battle little by little,” said Patrick Valentine, who legally married his partner Oct. 8.

In May 2013, civil unions for same-sex couples became legal across Colorado.

“It was a step up, and it was good. It was not the same as getting married,” said Chris Gonzalez, who married her partner of 16 years in October.

Gonzalez and her wife, Nancy Fritz, went to the La Plata County Clerk & Recorder’s Office to get the paperwork for their marriage license Oct. 22. But when they entered the building, they got so excited at the prospect of finally being married that they signed the paperwork on the spot. It felt like a miracle, they said.

“We didn’t think we would ever see it,” Fritz said.

Durango residents Anita Blanchard and Diane McMullin said they have been married in their hearts for 21 years and signed the legal paperwork Oct. 9 to make it official in the eyes of the state. After decades of commitment, they were happy to have the same legal protections as straight couples.

“It has been a hard road when you look back on it,” McMullin said.

She realized that she was different as a child and later feared being kicked out of a rental home or losing her job because of her orientation.

It wasn’t until 1991, when she was in her early 50s, that she felt truly comfortable being open with everyone about her orientation.

“That’s a long time to hide something,” McMullin said.

The next year, she fought a state constitutional amendment, which would have prevented people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community from claiming they were discriminated against, among other things.

Blanchard and McMullin said they were heartened when the amendment failed in La Plata County. The law passed statewide, but was later blocked by the courts.

They have long felt at home here. Even in the 1970s, Blanchard felt as though she had found allies in Durango.

Other local couples had very different personal journeys. Gonzalez and Fritz realized that they were gay after failed marriages.

For Gonzalez, it was simple.

“I would never marry a man again,” she said.

Fritz had an epiphany at a Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays meeting. She decided to go after her daughter came out as a lesbian. Sitting there seeing a loving lesbian couple, something changed within her.

Two years later, she met Gonzalez, and the connection seemed natural.

“We understand each other better because we’re both women,” she said.

Valentine, who has been with his husband, Lawrence Broadway, for 15 years, had a similar experience. Until he was 50, he tried to live what he thought was an upstanding heterosexual life and worked at a major corporation.

“There was no place to come out without being ostracized,” he said.

When he came out, he found life far more refreshing. Now, years later, he sees the country shifting toward enshrining full equality.

“It’s time for everyone to have a share at a piece of the happiness pie,” he said.

Source: The Durango Herald, “Winning the battle | Local gay couples tie knot after long wait for equality,” By Mary Shinn Herald staff writer, Article Last Updated: Monday, December 08, 2014 10:34pm

After gay son’s death, a new mission | Evangelical couple seek to affirm faith, accept same-sex relationships

Linda and Rob Robertson visit the grave of their son, Ryan, in Issaquah, Wash. The couple, evangelical Christians, brought their son to “reparative therapy” when he came out to them as gay. His sexual orientation didn’t change, and he became addicted to drugs and eventually died of an overdose. The Robertsons are now dedicated to helping other evangelical parents accept their gay children.

Linda and Rob Robertson visit the grave of their son, Ryan, in Issaquah, Wash. The couple, evangelical Christians, brought their son to “reparative therapy” when he came out to them as gay. His sexual orientation didn’t change, and he became addicted to drugs and eventually died of an overdose. The Robertsons are now dedicated to helping other evangelical parents accept their gay children. Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Rob and Linda Robertson did what they believed was expected of them as good Christians.

After his parents sent him to “reparative therapy” when he came out as gay to his evangelical parents, Ryan Robertson did not change his sexual orientation, and he became addicted to drugs and eventually died of an overdose.

After his parents sent him to “reparative therapy” when he came out as gay to his evangelical parents, Ryan Robertson did not change his sexual orientation, and he became addicted to drugs and eventually died of an overdose. Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

After his parents sent him to “reparative therapy” when he came out as gay to his evangelical parents, Ryan Robertson did not change his sexual orientation, and he became addicted to drugs and eventually died of an overdose.

When their 12-year-old son, Ryan, said he was gay, they told him they loved him, but he had to change. He entered “reparative therapy,” met regularly with his pastor and immersed himself in Bible study and his church youth group. After six years, nothing changed. A despondent Ryan, cut off from his parents and his faith, started taking drugs and in 2009, died of an overdose.

“Now we realize we were so wrongly taught,” said Rob Robertson, a firefighter for more than 30 years who lives in Redmond, Washington. “It’s a horrible, horrible mistake the church has made.”

The tragedy could have easily driven the Robertsons from the church. But instead of breaking with evangelicalism – as many parents in similar circumstances have done – the couple is taking a different approach, and they’re inspiring other Christians with gay children to do the same. They are staying in the church and, in protesting what they see as the demonization of their sons and daughters, presenting a new challenge to Christian leaders trying to hold off growing acceptance of same-sex relationships.

“Parents don’t have anyone on their journey to reconcile their faith and their love for their child,” said Linda Robertson, who with Rob attends a nondenominational evangelical church. “They either reject their child and hold onto their faith, or they reject their faith and hold onto their child. Rob and I think you can do both: be fully affirming of your faith and fully hold onto your child.”

It’s not clear how much of an impact these parents can have. Evangelicals tend to dismiss fellow believers who accept same-sex relationships as no longer Christian. The parents only recently have started finding each other online and through faith-oriented organizations for gays and lesbians such as the Gay Christian Network, The Reformation Project and The Marin Foundation.

But Linda Robertson, who blogs about her son at justbecausehebreathes.com, said a private Facebook page she started last year for evangelical mothers of gays has more than 300 members. And in the last few years, high-profile cases of prominent Christian parents embracing their gay children indicate a change is occurring beyond a few isolated families.

Advocates for acceptance

James Brownson, a New Testament scholar at Western Theological Seminary, a Michigan school affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, last year published the book Bible, Gender, Sexuality, advocating a re-examination of what Scripture says about same-sex relationships. His son came out at age 18.

Kathy Baldock, a Christian who advocates for gay acceptance through her website CanyonwalkerConnections.com, said evangelical parents are speaking out more because of the example set by their children. Gay and lesbian Christians increasingly have been making the argument they can be attracted to people of the same gender and remain faithful to God, whether that means staying celibate or having a committed same-sex relationship. The annual conference of the Gay Christian Network has grown from 40 people a decade ago to an expected 1,400 for the next event in January.

Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian, has attracted more than 810,000 views on YouTube for a 2012 lecture he gave challenging the argument that Scripture bars same-sex relationships.

“These kids are now staying in the churches. They’re not walking away like they used to,” Baldock said.

Rejecting ‘reparative therapy’

The collapse of support for “reparative therapy” also is a factor, Shopland said. In June of last year, Alan Chambers, the leader of Exodus International, a ministry that tried to help conflicted Christians repress same-sex attraction, apologized for the suffering the ministry caused and said the group would close down.

At a conference on marriage and sexuality last month, a prominent Southern Baptist leader, the Rev. Al Mohler, said he was wrong to believe that same-sex attraction could be changed. Baldock, The Marin Foundation and the Gay Christian Network all say Christian parents have ben reaching out to them for help in notably higher numbers in the last couple of years.

“If it doesn’t work, then parents are left with the question of ‘What is the answer?’” Shopland said. “If I can’t change my kid into being a straight Christian, then what?”

Bill Leonard, a specialist in American religious history at Wake Forest Divinity School, said church leaders should be especially concerned about parents. He said many evangelicals began to shift on divorce when the marriages of the sons and daughters of pastors and “rock-ribbed” local church members such as deacons started crumbling. While conservative Christians generally reject comparisons between the church’s response to divorce and to sexual orientation, Leonard argues the comparison is apt.

“The churches love those individuals, and because they know them, those churches may look for another way,” Leonard said.

Moving toward acceptance

Some evangelical leaders seem to recognize the need for a new approach. The head of the Southern Baptist public policy arm, the Rev. Russell Moore, addressed the issue on his blog and at the marriage conference last month, telling Christian parents they shouldn’t shun their gay children. Mohler has said he expects some evangelical churches to eventually recognize same-sex relationships, but not in significant numbers.

Linda Robertson said the mothers who contact her through her Facebook page usually aren’t ready to fully accept their gay sons or daughters. Some parents she meets believe their children can change their sexual orientation. But she said most who reach out to her are moving away from the traditional evangelical view of how parents should respond when their children come out.

“I got a lot of emails from parents who said, ‘I don’t know one other parent of a gay child. I feel like in my community, I don’t have permission to love my child,’” she said. “They have a lot of questions. But then they’re going back to their churches and speaking to their pastors, speaking to their elders and speaking to their friends, saying, ‘We have a gay child. We love them, and we don’t want to kick them out. How do we go forward?’”

Source:  The Durango Herald, “After gay son’s death, a new mission | Evangelical couple seek to affirm faith, accept same-sex relationships,” By Rachel Zoll, AP Religion Writer, Article Last Updated: Friday, December 05, 2014 8:38pm