WORCESTER — The Massachusetts Republican State Committee decided Thursday night to table a decision on adopting the national party’s platform until after the November election, delaying a vote over values that threatened to alienate energetic new conservatives from the party’s more moderate establishment.
The 80-member state committee had scheduled a vote on embracing the national platform, which condemns gay marriage and abortion in all cases, without exceptions for rape or to save the life of the mother. That language caused controversy nationally and in Massachusetts, where Republican candidates have traditionally found success with socially moderate stances.
Richard Tisei, a Republican candidate for the Sixth Congressional District who is openly gay, urged the state committee chairman Wednesday to reconsider taking up the national platform. Other Republicans said the party feared that a battle about internecine values would alienate the Tea Party activists and conservatives who can get out the vote for Republicans in an election year.
“They want to delay the vote because they don’t want to tick off the conservatives,” party activist Alex Veras of Haverhill said after the vote.
Party spokesman Timothy Buckley barred a Globe reporter from the meeting at the Beechwood Hotel, which was otherwise open to the public and press. After the vote, he declined to give details, saying, “It was tabled. That’s all I got.”
However, participants recounted the events of the meeting. The state committee member who had proposed adopting the national platform, Patricia B. Doherty, detailed to the Globe the speech she gave.
Doherty, a Medford state committee member, said that in her remarks she contrasted the national party’s platform with that of the Democratic National Committee, President Obama, and Democratic US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. She pointed to the national Democratic platform’s silence on late-term abortions and abortion for sex selection. “This is a war on women. This is a war on baby girls,” she told the Globe.
She also highlighted the Democrats’ silence on China’s one-child policy, which she said leads to the abortion of baby girls, noting that the Republicans’ national platform condemns China’s policy.
The party chairman, Robert A. Maginn Jr., is married to Chinese activist Ling Chai, who founded All Girls Allowed, a nonprofit that works against China’s One Child Policy and that is affiliated with the software company Maginn runs.
According to an audiotape of the meeting obtained by the Globe, Maginn recounted his wife’s conversation with a woman who had a forced abortion in China, and he called for ending such “barbarities.”
“We’re not going to put up with this kind of stuff because everybody on this planet is God’s children,” he said.
The current state GOP platform, adopted two years ago, does not address abortion or gay marriage. Some members questioned why it was being reconsidered now. Rewritten in 2010, it is not due for reconsideration until the state Republican convention in 2014.
“I’m not sure we should have brought it up, because usually it’s done every four years,” said Paul Ronukaitus of Winthrop, who was not troubled by either version.
Doherty said she proposed that the state committee embrace the national platform back in June — even before it was fully developed or adopted — because the state’s existing platform was so abbreviated. She also said she thought the state should embrace the platform of Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee for president.
Correction: Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this story misidentified Alex Veras, a Republican who attended the meeting. He is not a member of the Republican state committee.