Bishin Recognized

Benjamin G. Bishin, associate professor of political science, and three co-authors have won the prestigious Bailey Award for the best paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. This is the most prestigious award for scholars of LGBT politics.

Sharing in the award are co-authors Thomas J. Hayes, assistant professor of political science at University of Connecticut and a UCR alumnus; Charles Anthony Smith, associate professor of political science at UC Irvine; and Matthew B. Incantalupo, a Ph.D. candidate in politics and social policy at Princeton University. This is the second time in three years that Bishin and Smith have won this award.

Their paper, “Testing Backlash:  The Influence of Political Institutions on Public Attitudes toward Gay Rights,” determined that concerns that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling favorable to gay marriage might produce a backlash that would impede efforts to achieve equality are unfounded.

The Bailey Award Committee called the paper “a well-executed study of a very timely topic. In light of recent advancements in the area of military inclusion, marriage equality and other issues, the possibility of political backlash has become an important problem for both academic and political communities to understand more thoroughly.”

Through an interesting experimental design, the committee said, the researchers found “little evidence of increased intensity of attitudes regarding gays and lesbians and same-sex marriage, challenging key pillars of the backlash thesis with significant empirical evidence. By adding new dimensions to the study of political backlash, they move away from the simplistic, but often widely accepted conclusion that political advances necessarily lead to backlash (and the implication that such advances should therefore be avoided).  Rather, they provide empirical evidence that challenges such easy and potentially politically reactionary conclusions.”

The researchers conducted online experiments in which people were asked to react to a state supreme court ruling allowing gay marriage and assigned the participants to read articles about the legalization of gay rights in Oregon, a gay pride parade and gun-control policy. A second experiment compared subjects’ reactions before and after U.S. Supreme Court hearings on California’s Proposition 8 and on restrictions on marriage recognition and benefits contained in the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

There was no evidence of opinion backlash on the issue of gay marriage in either experiment. In fact, contrary to theories of backlash, experiment participants viewed gays and lesbians more warmly after the Supreme Court hearings than participants did before, the researchers found. Although pushing for equal rights for gays and lesbians may produce some negative results — such as court rulings that go against gay rights — public opinion backlash is not likely to be one of them.

Norman Completes 51 Years at UCR

Last month, Anthony Norman, a distinguished professor emeritus of biochemistry and biomedical sciences, completed 51 years as an active faculty member at UC Riverside.  Although retired since December 2005, Norman continues to participate in his instructional activities in the Department of Biochemistry and the Division of Biomedical Sciences in the School of Medicine.

 Norman served as chair of the UCR Academic Senate from 2008 to 2010.  He became president of the UCR Emeriti Association in 2010.  In 2011 he became a professor of the Graduate Division, giving him access to many professorial activities.

 “I anticipate continuing support for UCR for at least five more years as a professor of the Graduate Division in the biochemistry department and other UCR precincts that will accept me,” he said.

 Norman is an international expert on vitamin D and its health benefits.  It was his lab that discovered, in 1967, that the vitamin is converted into a steroid hormone by the body. Two years later, his lab discovered the vitamin D receptor (or VDR).

 He has proposed worldwide policy changes regarding people’s vitamin D daily intake amount in order to maximize the vitamin’s contribution to reducing the frequency of many diseases, including childhood rickets, adult osteomalacia, cancer, autoimmune type-1 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity and muscle weakness.

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