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Edwards stumps for gay adoption 

Before the annual Human Rights Campaign dinner Saturday night, you might have been forgiven for failing to associate presidential hopeful and U.S. Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., with gay rights. After all, he hails from the same state as former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, and some of his competitors for the Democratic nomination -- most notably former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who signed into law a civil union bill -- enjoy a higher profile on gay issues.

Yet Saturday night, Edwards proposed a bold plan that would grant $2,500 in tax credits to families with new babies -- natural born or adopted -- and the parents could be gay or straight. Such a plan would amount to an official sanctioning of gay parenthood by the federal government.

"We have to do more to support all families with a new baby struggling to make ends meet," Edwards told an enthusiastic crowd. "Twenty-five hundred is more than most Americans take home in a month. It will give millions of parents their first chance to take real time off when they have a baby, help pay for child care, help buy clothing, help buy furniture. Parents raise children. The government doesn't."

For many families, taking time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act just isn't realistic, because they can't afford it. Edwards' plan could make it easier financially.

"It's about the right of all responsible people to be given responsibility," Edwards said of his support of the issue and gay rights generally.

Edwards served as the keynote speaker at the event and openly-gay Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard introduced him to the 1,300 in attendance as the "must-have candidate in 2004." A Woolard spokesman says she has not yet officially decided to endorse Edwards, although he is on her short list.

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