The SPLC, a civil rights group* that spends much of its time classifying right-wing groups as “hate groups,” has been bugging conservatives with greater and greater frequency since the start of the Tea Party movement. The SPLC was cited, you’ll remember, in the DHS’s report on “right-wing extremism” that was leaked right before the 4/15/09 Tea Parties.

Anyway, the SPLC’s classification as the Family Research Council as a “hate group” has inspired a huge PR response, spearheaded by the FRC, accusing the civil rights group of “slanderous tactics” and “intolerance pure and simple.” The pushback takes the form today of a full-page ad in Politico and a web site, “Start Debating Stop Hating.” Among the co-signers: incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner, incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor, incoming Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Mike Pence, Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal, Jim DeMint, James Inhofe and… Ken Cuccinelli.

The extremely low-key statement they’ve all agreed to:

We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Family Research Council, American Family Association, Concerned Women of America, National Organization for Marriage, Liberty Counsel and other pro-family organizations that are working to protect and promote natural marriage and family. We support the vigorous but responsible exercise of the First Amendment rights of free speech and religious liberty that are the birthright of all Americans.

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