PROVO — It appears the Utah County Democratic Party used a red pen when redefining its collective stance on the high-profile issues of gay marriage and abortion.

A revised platform intended to give the Democratic Party more mainstream voter appeal in Utah County was adopted Saturday. That makeover includes a Republican-like definition of marriage and follows The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' position on abortion.

But that doesn't mean Utah County Democrats have taken an if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em philosophy, said Vaughn R. Cook, chairman of the Utah County Democratic Party.

"I think (the new platform) is a good reflection of the attitudes and beliefs of most Democrats in Utah County," Cook said.

On the topic of families, the platform states that Utah County Democrats, like most Utahns, "define marriage as the union of one man and one woman."

That statement is followed by more open-minded language: "However, we also acknowledge that some have deeply held and sometimes differing views on this issue. We seek to understand those differences in a spirit of civility, hope and mutual respect."

As for abortion, the Utah County Democrats' new platform says "every abortion is a tragedy" and opposes "elective abortion for personal or social convenience." Abortion should be limited to instances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, cases of fetal deformities or when there is a serious threat to the life or health of the mother, the platform states.

It all sounds very familiar to Marian Monnahan, Utah County GOP chairwoman.

"It sounds like they're mimicking the Republican Party platform," Monnahan said. "If they want to be that conservative, really they ought to join us."

That's not the case, Cook said.

"We did not consult the Republican platform, and we're certainly not looking to become Republicans," he said. "That would be counterproductive to the state."

Cook said the revised platform combats ideas perpetuated by conservative radio talk shows that all Democrats think the same. As in any group, the there are diverse opinions among the estimated 7,000 Utah County voters registered as Democrats.

"The things that the Republicans would like to use to identify Democrats aren't really the things that identify Democrats," he said.

Issues such as gay marriage and abortion attract most of the headlines, he said, but public education and transportation are examples of the important issues confronting government on a day-to-day basis.

"In the platform that we've just ratified, we address (gay marriage and abortion) head-on," Cook said. "We don't want those to become the defining elements of the Democratic Party in Utah County."

The information in the new platform is more timely, he said, and updates a platform that was written six years ago.

"It was time to define ourselves again," Cook said.

Monnahan said changing a platform does not change what a party stands for.

"They call themselves Democrats, they're part of the national Democratic Party and a leaf is still part of the tree," she said.

The full text of the Utah County Democratic Party platform can be viewed at www.utahcountydemocrats.org/platform.html.


E-mail: jpage@desnews.com