Spirit and Place Festival explores life’s journey

imagesLife’s journey is filled with movement and meaning, but this Nov. 7 to 16, “Journey” also is the theme of a quest for thousands of curious people during the 2014 Spirit & Place Festival in Indianapolis.

The 19th annual festival will explore the various aspects of “Journey” in nearly 40 events scattered throughout the city, focusing on the impact of such topics as immigration, incarceration, marriage and dozens of others, all led by partnerships linking various civic, cultural and religious groups.

Spirit & Place was created 19 years ago by The Polis Center at IUPUI to engage the city’s population in unique conversations about each year’s festival theme.

This year, individual events will study life’s journey, all leading to the annual festival finale: the public conversation. This year’s event will feature renowned authors Gail Sheehy and Mark Nepo and Dr. Timothy Quill and focus on the “Journey’s End” at 4 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Christian Theological Seminary’s Shelton Auditorium.

All three are linked by loss and the quality of one’s end of life. Sheehy, the author of “Passages,” cared for her husband in the last stages of his life. Nepo is a two-time cancer survivor, and is scheduled to tour with television host Oprah Winfrey to discuss his perspectives on the importance of palliative care. Quill is the director of the Center for Ethics, Humanities and Palliative Care at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.

The three also will participate in the Mary Margaret Walther Program in Palliative Care Research and Education symposium “Passages and Promises: Innovations in Palliative Care Research Education and Practice” at the IUPUI Campus Center on Nov. 17.

Linking to other community events of importance is a Spirit & Place goal, said David Bodenhamer, the executive director of The Polis Center and one of those who helped create the festival.

“Spirit & Place’s success ultimately rests upon its ability to connect to the larger civic interests and concerns represented by an ever-growing number of groups in our city who, like Spirit & Place, want to make Indianapolis an even better place tomorrow than it is today,” Bodenhamer said.

Simple, open-ended themes are a deliberate choice, said Pam Blevins Hinkle, the festival director.

“We purposefully choose themes that are timely and resonate broadly in the community,” she said. Such themes help organizations find intriguing partnerships with other groups and explore issues more deeply.

Bodenhamer said he has been pleasantly surprised by some of those partnerships.

“I underestimated both the desire to contribute and the ways in which people wanted to collaborate across sectors,” he said. “People want to experience the whole city, not only their part of it. In this sense, Spirit & Place has touched a longing for connections that make a difference. The festival has encouraged this city’s cultural re-awakening and its belief in itself as a city of worth.”

Simple themes “evoke a wide range of feelings, images, memories and reflections that stoke the imagination and create a sense of anticipation for the November festival,” Hinkle said. The themes often offer an interesting mix of individual and community journeys.

Though other cities have shown an interest in imitating the impact of Spirit & Place, Bodenhamer said none have been able to replicate it.

“Spirit & Place is unique because Indianapolis is unique: we have our own history, our own traditions, our own sense of time and space,” he said.

by Ric Burrous

Learn more about this year’s festival.

 

IU experts discuss federal court rulings concerning same-sex marriage bans in Indiana and Utah

25868212_BG1A federal district judge has ruled that Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, allowing for the immediate issuance of marriage licenses Wednesday in a state that earlier this year saw a contentious debate in the legislature about amending the Indiana constitution to include the ban. A federal appeals court also ruled on Wednesday that Utah must allow same-sex couples to marry, making it the first time a federal appeals court has taken action on the controversial issue.

Experts from Indiana University offer the following insights:

A historic event for same-sex couples, families in Indiana
A strategy of ‘shock and awe’
Consistent with a trend across the nation
Rulings likely to increase Americans’ support of same-sex marriage
Question is no longer whether but when

A historic event for same-sex couples, families in Indiana

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Deborah Widiss, associate professor at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, said that the striking down of Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban is a historic event for same-sex couples and their families in Indiana.

“Indiana now joins the quickly growing number of states where courts have held that state bans are unconstitutional,” Widiss said.

She said the court correctly held that marriage is fundamentally important, and that there is not a good reason to deny same-sex couples access to marriage. Since Judge Richard Young did not issue a stay on his ruling, Indiana same-sex couples have already been issued marriage licenses in Marion County throughout the day, as well as in other Indiana counties, paving the way for equal marriage rights for all in Indiana.

Widiss conducts research on employment law, family law, legislation, gender and gender stereotypes. To speak with her, contact Ken Turchi at 812-856-4044 or kturchi@indiana.edu, or Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or traljame@iu.edu. Top

A strategy of ‘shock and awe’

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Steve Sanders, associate professor of law at the Maurer School of Law, said states like Indiana have had only one remaining argument to justify their bans against same-sex marriage: that the purpose of marriage is to incentivize heterosexuals not to procreate irresponsibly.

“Historians and family law scholars have regarded this argument as dubious,” Sanders said. “And today it was rejected by [Federal District] Judge Young as well as the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The movement for legal same-sex marriage has been pursuing a strategy of shock and awe, filing as many lawsuits as possible and racking up an unbroken string of victories in the federal courts. Today’s rulings in Indiana and the 10th Circuit are part of this larger landscape. Indeed, it may have been more noteworthy if the decisions had gone the other way.”

Sanders can be reached at 734-904-2280 or stevesan@indiana.edu. For additional assistance, contact Ken Turchi at 812-856-4044 or kturchi@indiana.edu, or Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or traljame@iu.edu. Top

Consistent with a trend across the nation

INDIANAPOLIS — Jennifer Drobac, professor of law at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said today’s federal court decision to strike down Indiana’s gay marriage ban is completely consistent with the direction in which other U.S. court decisions are headed.

“[Indiana] is about a year behind from what the federal government is doing,” Drobac said. “This is a decision that could have been predicted based on the fact that so many courts have been ruling in this way across the nation and in the Supreme Court’s strike down of DOMA last summer. There’s nothing surprising or shocking here.”

Drobac said the ruling provides significant changes in Indiana family law. It allows married same-sex couples to protect their families in a way that all other married couples can in Indiana. In turn, this avoids numerous problems with legal orphans or children left without child support in same-sex dissolutions of marriage.

“This is simply consistent with a trend across the nation: recognizing marriage as a fundamental right of all loving couples that want to formalize their commitment and protect their families,” she said.

Drobac is a professor at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Her research areas include family law, juvenile law and sexual harassment law. She can be reached at jdrobac@iu.edu  or at 317-278-4777. Top

Rulings likely to increase Americans’ support of same-sex marriage

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana is not the first state to have its same-sex marriage ban struck down by a federal judge, yet the ruling here is all the more significant considering the contentious debate earlier this year about making Indiana’s ban a constitutional amendment, said Indiana University sociology professor Brian Powell.

“If you look at Indiana and nearby states, you see a stark difference,” he said. “While Illinois legislators approved legislation allowing same-sex marriage, Indiana legislators were debating about becoming the last state to move toward a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.”

Powell has conducted several nationally representative surveys of Americans’ opinions of family and same-sex marriage, beginning in 2003, and has watched support for same-sex unions grow 2 percent to 2.5 percent a year, which he describes as surprisingly speedy for such a controversial social issue. According to Powell, “court decisions such as today’s ruling likely will serve to further increase Americans’ support for same-sex marriage.”

He also noted that “same-sex marriage may prove to be an economic boon for the state of Indiana.” Same-sex marriage could generate millions of dollars in spending for the Indiana economy and could be important in the recruitment and retention of highly skilled employees, especially in businesses such as Eli Lilly and Cummins and in universities.

The reasons states give to justify their constitutional bans have often focused on the benefits to children. Powell’s public opinion research has found, however, that opposition to same-sex marriage does not stem from concerns about children but instead is mostly rooted in religious and moral beliefs. Because groups of people cannot legally be treated differently based on moral or religious beliefs, states had to offer other justifications for their same-sex marriage bans.

“The great irony is that during the political debates, the people who are opposed to same-sex marriage express moral disapproval, but that cannot be a legal basis for law.”

Powell is the Rudy Professor of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington and can be reached at 812-360-0474 or powell@indiana.edu. For additional assistance, contact Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or traljame@iu.edu. Top

Question is no longer whether but when

INDIANAPOLIS — With Wednesday’s ruling on same-sex marriage, it is becoming increasingly clear that the question is not whether same-sex marriage will be recognized nationwide, but when that will happen, according to IU McKinney School of Law professor David Orentlicher.

“Since December, federal judges in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas — and now Indiana — have ruled that same-sex marriage bans violate the U.S. Constitution, and past decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court indicate that arguments against same-sex marriage ultimately will fall short,” Orentlicher said.

“Although the Supreme Court once deferred to a legislature’s moral judgment about personal relationships and other social practices, that is no longer the case. The government needs to identify tangible harm from the conduct. A ban on same-sex marriage must rest on something more than public morality.

“Opponents of same-sex marriage have wrongly argued that children are better off being raised by opposite-sex couples than by same-sex couples. That argument misreads the empirical evidence on parenting, misjudges the role of government, and it misconceives the function of marriage.”

David Orentlicher is the Samuel R. Rosen Professor of Law at IU Robert McKinney School of Law and co-director of the William S. and Christine S. Hall Center for Law and Health, a unit of the McKinney School of Law, which is on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Orentlicher holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is an adjunct professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine, also at IUPUI. To reach Orentlicher for interviews, call 317-658-1674 or email dorentli@iu.edu.