Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

DOMA ruling affirms Apollo Beach woman's marriage

Jana Broder expected Wednesday to end like so many other days when a judicial body took an issue involving gay rights under consideration. ¶ With a decision for her and her wife Kimberly. ¶ Broder, a drum circle facilitator — she guides participants through African drum songs to create team building, stress relief and fun for corporations and youth groups — set off for a busy day thinking the U.S. Supreme Court would uphold the Defense of Marriage Act. Given that she and her wife Kimberly just got married in May, she prepared for the sting of such a decision. ¶ But the court surprised her, prompting a unique reaction. ¶ "I actually get a text from Kimberly, and it says, 'DOMA was struck down as unconstitutional. We have the same rights as everyone else,' " Broder said. "I started driving and I was really happy, but it hadn't quite sunk in. I thought, 'Did I read that right?' I read it again, and all of sudden, I found myself saying the Pledge of Allegiance." ¶ Broder, who lives in Apollo Beach, shared with Times columnist Ernest Hooper her thoughts about the historic decision, her Drum Magic work and the challenges she has faced as a lesbian.

Someone confronted you in Brandon once and said you were going to hell. How did that make you feel?

It struck me so hard. I don't know what made me say this, but I said, "Is Charles Manson going to hell? He murdered people in cold blood." He said, "Nope, but you're going to hell." I said, "But look at all that I do. I have daily conversations with God, and God thinks I'm doing the right thing, and my God loves me." He said, "You're going to hell." He was so defiant. I just couldn't even imagine that kind of thinking. I don't agree with a lot of people out there, but I would never presume such a huge statement.

I can't imagine how you felt when the decision came down, but certainly there must have been a lot of joy.

It's so interesting, because I've always compared it to civil rights. We're taking away people's civil rights. Just like our generation now looks back and thinks, "How could that have ever been?", I look at the generation of our children and they don't know what we're arguing about. They can't imagine why anyone would care who I marry.

Was it validation or vindication?

Vindication sounds negative, and it doesn't feel like vindication. Maybe validation? It's just so weird for my whole life to be something other than what everyone else is. Maybe even from a very young age, I always knew I was something other than everyone else, and I hated it. I wanted to be straight. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to find a husband and have three kids, but I couldn't.

But you are normal.

Right. Well you know, I'm 54 now, but it's taken me years to realize that. It was so wonderful at 54, never having been married before, never really having the inkling to be married before, that I finally found someone. We've dated for six years. … We always knew that when we felt it was right, we wanted to be married — whether it was legal or not. I really feel like it was sacred. I was never able to be married before. So we flew to Rockville, Md., — my aunt lives there — and we had a wedding right there. My whole family was there, and it was fabulous.

Have you thought about what the decision means from a legal perspective?

Unfortunately it doesn't mean much in the state of Florida, sadly, but I've scheduled a meeting with my CPA and I would sure love to know if federally it has some meaning to us. But at this point and time, we're still preparing our documents for living wills, because we have to be protected. I know people who have had cancer who weren't even allowed to visit their significant other because of not having legal documents in place, which isn't the case with heterosexual relationships.

How do you feel about the phrase "Love the sinner, but hate the sin"?

I have such mixed feelings about that. Everybody's a sinner. How can you not love everybody, and if you love everybody, you love sinners. Everybody sins. When people give me bad feelings about who I am, I wonder what God gives them permission to take another human being and make them lesser than them.

Clearly, there are still a lot of people who are opposed to same-sex marriage. What matters more to you, being recognized by the Constitution or being accepted by others?

I think what's important to me is my ability to be in relationships with other people. I always have assumed that the constitutional rights were the rights of all people. Those that think I should feel differently about that, I just don't agree with. As far as other people, I want other people to understand. . . . People have laughed at this before, because they think I'm a simple-minded person in this, but my favorite philosopher my whole life has been Mister Rogers, Fred Rogers. The reason being is this is what he's taught me: Life is for service. It's really not for anything else. We're only put here to help other people. When we forget that, that's when things start going wrong. That is what I'm here for, and everything else becomes unimportant.

Your work includes working with mentally ill children at a hospital. Tell me about that.

Every child I work with was below the age of 12. They have done things like caught their house on fire or murdered one of their parents. They are felons in a children's hospital. They have been deemed mentally ill, and once a week, I go in to these children and I drum with them. They express themselves through the drum. They learn that in their lives, they can change. They can be better people. At the end of every hour, every week, they're a little bit better than they were last week. We played a song, all of us together and me — you know, the sinner, the one who's going to hell — and they changed right before my eyes. These kids turned into angels. And I'm looking at them and saying, "Wow, what just happened?" Sometimes I have to pinch myself.

Sunday conversation is edited for brevity and clarity.

DOMA ruling affirms Apollo Beach woman's marriage 06/29/13 [Last modified: Friday, June 28, 2013 2:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  2. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  3. Romano: When a life is more valuable than an arrest

    Public Safety

    Before examining the details, let's propose a question:

    This is a handout request to accompany school portraits of Joey Boylan, who died of a drug overdose and who is being written about in John Romano's column for Sunday. We'd like to run a mug of Joey with the column. Any of the first three attached pictures would be fine to use. We don't need them all. Just pick your favorite portrait and put that in the system. Thanks.
  4. Bono visits with former President George W. Bush


    A surprising photo showed up Friday on former President George W. Bush's Instagram feed. Apparently Bono made a visit to the ranch.

    Former President George W. Bush and Bono.
  5. After trip's final day, Trump to return to tumult at home


    TAORMINA, Italy — Down to the final day of his lengthy first international trip, President Donald Trump will lift off for Washington having rattled some allies and reassured others, returning to a White House that sits under a cloud of scandal.

    G7 leaders sign the G7 Taormina Statement on the Fight Against Terrorism and Violent Extremism at the G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy on Friday.  (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)