WASHINGTON (CNN) – Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has signed a bill into law banning the use of some state funds for embryonic stem cell research.
The move puts the DNC chairman at odds with President Obama, who signed an executive order earlier this month reversing the Bush administration's ban on federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells.
Kaine approved the Virginia bill on Monday, according to the governor's office, the same day he enacted legislation that would permit "Choose Life" license plates in the commonwealth - an act that angered state and national abortion rights advocates.
The governor signed another piece of legislation Monday aimed at promoting "science and technology-based" research and development in Virginia. It contains language inserted by the General Assembly that would prevent a state fund from providing dollars to organizations or businesses that undertake "research in Virginia on human cells or tissue derived from induced abortions or from stem cells obtained from human embryos."
Kaine's support for the legislation is not surprising: He is a staunch Catholic who has long opposed using taxpayer money for embryonic stem cell research. But the platform of the Democratic Party, now headed by Kaine at Obama's behest, describes embryonic stem cell research as "research that could save lives."
Both the stem cell bill and the license plate uproar highlight the balancing act Kaine faces in his dual roles of the moment: one as policy-minded governor of a moderate state, and another as a the national face for a partisan organization seeking to promote President Obama agenda. Kaine will assume the DNC position full time when his term expires in January.
Asked for comment about Kaine's departure from the national party line, the DNC referred questions to the governor's office in Richmond.
Lynda Tran, the governor's communications director, said that Kaine's decision is "in keeping with his faith and his personal beliefs."
"The governor is opposed to the use of state funds to fund embryonic stem cell research, but he generally agrees with the national platform broadly, that there are scientific values to stem cell research," Tran said. "In Virginia, where there has been strong opposition to embryonic research, he has chosen to focus on other forms of research like adult and placental stem cell research."
The bill signed Monday allows funding for non-embryonic types of research.
All three of the Democrats vying to replace Kaine as governor this fall - Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds - support using state money for embryonic research.
UPDATE: A spokesman for the Republican candidate for governor, Bob McDonnell, said he opposes state funding for embryonic research but supports other forms of stem cell research. Martin said McDonnell has "a personal and direct interest" in the matter because his father suffers from Alzheimer's.
"Adult stem cell research avoids the ethical questions associated with taxpayer funded embryonic stem cell research," said McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin. "Bob McDonnell believes we should focus tax dollars on research methods where there is common ground.
Article updated at 9:30 a.m. EST