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    Documentary Project Inspires Change: The Fight for Family Comes to Manny’s in San Francisco on April 25

    Jackie Biskupski and Laura Milliken Gray,
    founders of JL Productions

    By Laura Milliken Gray, Attorney at Law–

    Last year, state legislatures across the country proposed over 500 anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ laws. These laws attack the trans community, bar DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) programs, and try to ban rainbow flags in classrooms; all are designed to strip the LGBTQ+ community of our rights and protections.

    Like many queer Americans, I feel a sense of helplessness as I watch our rights being eroded. As a scrappy lesbian lawyer who spent over 25 years in the legal trenches of uber-conservative Saly Lake City fighting for the rights of Utah’s LGBTQ families, this regression is especially troubling.

    That’s why I am partnering with my old friend and fellow queer rights warrior Jackie Biskupski on The Fight for Family documentary project. 

    In 1998, Jackie became the first out lesbian state legislator in Utah. She spent 13 years there fighting for Utah’s queer community under hostile conditions. Jackie went on to serve as Salt Lake City’s first openly gay mayor and the first lesbian elected to run a capital city in the United States. Jackie’s hard work helped change the tide for queer Utahns.

    The 1990s were grim for Utah’s LGBTQ citizens. Gay teachers could be fired. Gay support clubs were banned. Additionally, unmarried couples had zero legal protections. To help address this legal void, I started completing second parent adoptions in Utah courts for lesbian and gay couples. With second parent adoptions, queer couples could ensure their children were legally connected to both parents.

    But in 2000, the legislature retaliated with a nasty bill banning gay adoptions. Jackie and I worked tirelessly behind the scenes to block the bill, but we were overpowered by the LDS-church controlled legislature. The gay adoption ban left a legal desert where queer families had few ways to protect their children. It took years of advocacy on Utah’s capitol hill and several court cases to slowly turn the tide.

    Together, Jackie and I want to document our work with the LGBTQ+ couples and their children who helped change the face of the American family. But our efforts didn’t happen in a vacuum. Jackie and I could not have done our work in Utah without the legal and moral support of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). We worked closely with NCLR’s former Executive Director, Kate Kendell, and with now Legal Director Shannon Minter, who provided legal advice, briefs, case law, and boots on the ground in Utah and across the U.S. during those fraught years before marriage equality.

    In fact, Kate grew up in Utah, and she and I mis-spent our early legal careers together and found lots of “good trouble” in SLC before Kate moved to San Francisco to join NCLR. 

    The Fight for Family is capturing this important chapter of America’s queer history. The project will inspire our community and all families that look different to find their voices and fight back against oppressive right-wing agendas.

    Currently in production, The Fight for Family features interviews with queer Utah families and their kids, as well as brave judges and activists who stood up for our rights. Even now, after the hard work of so many LGBTQ+ activists to ensure equal rights nationwide, so much is at stake. 

    We need you to help us tell this story and to energize our community in the face of right-wing attacks! Come join us for a fundraiser at Manny’s on April 25 from 6 pm to 8 pm, see exclusive clips from the film, and meet Kate Kendell, Jackie Biskupski, producer Jennifer Dobner, and me to learn more about the project. Check out our website ( and donate to support the production!

    Attorney Laura Milliken Gray, with former legislator and Salt Lake City mayor Jackie Biskupski, launched JL Productions in 2023 to capture the fight to protect LGBT families between 1996 and 2008.

    Published on April 18, 2024