Michael Muller/PARADE
Stephen M. Silverman
August 05, 2009 03:45 PM

Even though he’s only 45, Brad Pitt is starting to feel his own mortality.

“As I’ve gotten older I’ve become aware that time is fleeting,” the leading man tells Parade.com. “I don’t want to waste whatever I have left. I want to spend it with the people I love, and I want to do things that really mean something.”

And while he happily acknowledges that he enjoys being a family man with Angelina Jolie, Pitt views the relationship as follows: “I have love in my life, a soul mate – absolutely.” As for marriage, he sticks by a response he gave some time ago: “Maybe we’ll get married when it’s legal for everyone else.”

That stance, he says, has not proved popular in all quarters. “I took a lot of flak for saying it – hate mail from religious groups,” Pitt says. “Just the other night, I heard this TV reverend say that Angie and I were setting a bad example because we were living out of wedlock, and people should not be duped by us! It made me laugh. What damn right does anyone have to tell someone else how to live if they’re not hurting anyone?”

In his mind, “I believe everyone should have the same rights. They say gay marriage ruins families and hurts kids. Well, I’ve had the privilege of seeing my gay friends being parents and watching their kids grow up in a loving environment.”

As for his own kids, they “are a dominant value in my life now, and they weren’t before. They were always something I thought I’d get around to having when the time was right In a way, I think I had to go and exhaust me before I could be good at being a parent.”

See Brad Pitt’s Parade photo shoot with his dog on PEOPLE Pets!

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