Queer Sacrifice in Masterpiece Cakeshop

88 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019 Last revised: 21 Sep 2023

See all articles by Jeremiah A. Ho

Jeremiah A. Ho

Saint Louis University - School of Law


This Article interprets the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, as a critical extension of Derrick Bell’s interest convergence thesis into the LGBTQ movement. Chiefly, Masterpiece reveals how the Court has been more willing to accommodate gay individuals who appear more assimilated and respectable—such as those who participated in the marriage equality decisions—than LGBTQ individuals who are less “mainstream” and whose exhibited queerness appear threatening to the heteronormative status quo. When assimilated same-sex couples sought marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, their respectable personas facilitated the alignment between their interests to marry and the Court’s interest in affirming the primacy of marriage. Masterpiece, however, demonstrates that when the litigants’ sexual identities seem less assimilated and more destabilizing to the status quo, the Court becomes much less inclined to protect them from discrimination and, in turn, reacts by reinforcing its interest to preserve the status quo—one that relies on religious freedoms to fortify heteronormativity. To push this observation further, this Article explores how such failure of interest convergence in Masterpiece extends Derrick Bell’s thesis on involuntary racial sacrifice and fortuity into the LGBTQ context—arguing that essentially Masterpiece is an example of queer sacrifice. Thus, using the appositeness of critical race thinking, this Article regards the reversal in Masterpiece as part of the contours of interest convergence, queer sacrifice, and fortuity in the LGBTQ movement. Such observations ultimately prompt this Article to propose specific liberationist strategies that the movement ought to adopt in forging ahead.

Keywords: masterpiece cakeshop v. colorado civil rights commission, sexual orientation antidiscrimination, lgbt, public accommodations, obergefell v. hodges, intersectionality, assimilation, liberationist, queer theory, derrick bell, interest convergence, racial fortuity, racial sacrifice

Suggested Citation

Ho, Jeremiah A., Queer Sacrifice in Masterpiece Cakeshop. Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, 2020, Receiver of The Dukeminier Awards, Saint Louis U. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2020-49, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3358659

Jeremiah A. Ho (Contact Author)

Saint Louis University - School of Law ( email )

100 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
United States

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