A host of Republican leaders have signed an open letter by the Family Research Council (FRC), which defended its First Amendment rights following a character attack by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Earlier this month, the SPLC accused the FRC and several other socially conservative organizations of being hate groups because of their views about homosexuality. In SPLC's winter edition of its Intelligence Report, the civil rights group said that certain conservative factions are on par with the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nations, according to The Daily Caller.
The FRC responded by crafting an open letter which appeared in the Dec. 15 print editions of Politico and The Washington Examiner. The letter was signed by more than 150 organizational leaders and politicians, including House Speaker-elect John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader-elect Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
In the letter, the FRC calls for "vigorous but responsible exercise of the First Amendment rights of free speech and religious liberty that are the birthright of all Americans."
"The surest sign one is losing a debate is to resort to character assassination," the letter reads. "The Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal fundraising machine whose tactics have been condemned by observers across the political spectrum, is doing just that."