Teach-in for Equality

Saturday, May 9th, 9:30am to 4:30pm – Los Angeles

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Marshall Burns

Marshall Burns, whose first career was in physics and technology, has shifted his focus to research on political and sexual issues.

Marshall Burns, whose first career was in physics and technology, has shifted his focus to research on political and sexual issues.

Marshall Burns went to a private elementary school where he studied the Old Testament in the original Hebrew. This led to a period of devout religious observance at an early age, which was somewhat alarming to his parents. When a rabbi counseled him to honor his parents’ wishes over God’s law, he began questioning the validity of religion.

After switching to a secular school, he continued religious studies in evening classes until almost the end of high school. At times, he even considered becoming a rabbi.

In college, Burns majored in physics. He earned a bachelor of science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1979 and a Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of Texas at Austin, studying under Einstein protégé John Wheeler and Nobel laureate Stephen Weinberg. His dissertation was on chaotic behavior of hydrogen. This research was published in two prestigious journals, and featured on the cover of one of them.

During interludes in his studies, and sometimes mixed with them, Burns engaged in a number of entrepreneurial businesses, mostly in new technologies. Shortly after the release of the Personal Computer by IBM in 1981, Burns started the first manufacturer of “PC clones.” Modest success of this financed the launch of his grad school education. On completing his Ph.D., he began working with new technology for making products from digital data. He wrote a book on the subject, Automated Fabrication, which was published by Prentice Hall in 1993 and is still an acknowledged reference. He worked on this technology into the early 2000s, consulting to leading industrial companies and government agencies, such as IBM, 3M, the US Navy, and the United Nations.

After the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, Burns started asking questions about the role of the United States in the world. This culminated in a five-month journey to Africa and India in 2007, exploring effects of Euro-American culture and politics on other parts of the world. He wrote a scathing report of his findings after two and a half months in Kenya.

On his return, Burns began researching another issue that had plagued him since his youth. Realizing that he had been an undetected felon when he began experimenting in homosexual activity in the 1970s, he looked suspiciously on rising enthusiasm for the sex offender registry. Working with the organizers of ReformSexOffenderLaws.org, he began conducting in-depth research on sex offender laws. The initial results were published as SOLresearch.org in early 2009, and that research continues.

On his Africa/India journey and then in his sex offender research, Burns has been looking out for how cultural issues, including religion, play into various problems that arise. An article that he published anonymously about the role of God in religion, when brought to the attention of Teach-in for Equality organizers, led to his invitation to speak about Gays and Religion at this event. His remarks will not be particularly friendly either to religion or to mainstream gay culture, but he hopes they will be taken in the positive spirit in which they are intended and lead to productive dialog.

For more on Marshall Burns, please visit his website at MBurns.com.

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