BOSTON The head of the state’s Republican party is distancing herself from a more socially conservative platform approved by the Massachusetts Republican Party.
The platform adopted Tuesday night by a majority of the 80-member Republican State Committee says the party will “affirm the inherent dignity of human life.”
“We believe that every instance of abortion is tragic,” the platform reads. “We advocate policies that will assist a woman during a crisis pregnancy.”
On the question of gay marriage, the platform says the party believes “the institution of traditional marriage strengthens society.”
Massachusetts Republican Party Chair Kirsten Hughes said she doesn’t support the platform, which she downplayed, saying it represents the beliefs of just the 52 members of the committee who supported it.
“It really is nothing more, nothing less than that,” she said.
She also said the platform doesn’t bind a Republican running for office in Massachusetts.
“Certainly candidates are free to divorce themselves from it,” Hughes told The Associated Press. “It’s not something that reflects my views and I chair the party.”
Hughes said she supported a minority report that affirmed the dignity of human life but added that “describing every abortion as tragic demonstrates a judgment we are not willing to pass with such a broad brush.”
She said the bulk of the approved platform espoused more centrist Republican views on jobs and the economy.
The platform could also prove awkward for two of the party’s most prominent candidates – Charlie Baker, who is running for governor, and Richard Tisei, a candidate for the state’s 6th Congressional District seat.
Baker supports abortion rights and gay marriage. Tisei is gay and married and also supports abortion rights.
“Charlie is pro-choice and respects a woman’s right to make decisions about her medical care. Charlie is and has always been a strong supporter of marriage equality,” Baker spokesman Tim Buckley said Wednesday, adding that Baker is focused on “creating good jobs, improving our schools and strengthening our communities.”
Baker is facing a possible primary challenge from fellow Republican Mark Fisher, who is aligned with the tea party wing of the GOP.
Tisei, who is hoping to unseat Democratic incumbent US Rep. John Tierney, pointed to what he called his “long record of supporting gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose.”
“The Republican Party should lead the way in getting government off our backs, out of our wallets, and away from our bedrooms, and the party hierarchy would be wise to adopt platforms that promote these values,” Tisei said.
Democrats and abortion rights groups were quick to fault the platform.
Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democratic candidate for governor, said the platform “would be a major step backward for women’s rights and equality.”
“Charlie had a chance to stand up before last night’s vote and lead his party in a different direction, but he failed,” Coakley said in a statement Wednesday.
A few hours later Coakley highlighted the GOP platform in a fundraising email to her supporters.
The abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts criticized what they called “a fringe and extreme agenda.”