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After weeks of protests, counter-protests, public outcry, kiss-ins, and other assorted drama surrounding Chick-fil-A’s beliefs about and contributions against gay marriage, news today claims that the company has agreed to various concessions, including ceasing donations to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights.

Watching people post this story to Facebook today, I noticed that many were cynical about Chick-Fil-A’s effort, calling it “a change of policy but not a change of heart.” That might be true.

However, no matter how much we tend to forget it, much historical progress in civil rights has been spurred by business interests. Here in Atlanta in particular (and remember, Chick-fil-A is based here), part of the initial motivations for progress on race in the middle of the last century amounted to the self-interest of big business (Coca-Cola is an important example). Thus the slogan of former Atlanta mayor William Hartsfield, “The City Too Busy to Hate.”

Progress is never perfect and rarely pretty.

published September 19, 2012