Representatives Steve King of Iowa and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota are among the lawmakers backing social conservative groups recently labeled hate groups.

The Republicans are defending the groups against claims by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The SPLC recently added the Family Research Council (FRC), the American Family Association (AFA) and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to the same list of hate groups as the Ku Klux Klan, the Nation of Islam and the Aryan Nations for their opposition to gay rights.

“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,” the open letter, sponsored by the FRC, reads. “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.”

The SPLC has “targeted FRC and other organizations that uphold Judeo-Christian moral views, including marriage as the union of a man a woman.”

Also signing onto the letter are Majority Leader-elect Eric Cantor, House Speaker-elect John Boehner, presidential hopefuls Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Louie Gohmert of Texas, and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.

In rejecting the SPLC's label, the AFA's Bryan Fischer asserted that it's true that “homosexuals controlled the Nazi Party and helped orchestrate the Holocaust,” that “homosexuals molest children at far higher rates than heterosexuals,” that “hate crime laws will lead to the jailing of pastors who criticize homosexuality and the legalization of practices like bestiality and necrophilia,” and that being gay is a choice.

In an appearance on Fox & Friends, Tony Perkins, the president of the FRC, denied he hates gay people.

“No. Not at all,” Perkins said, then quickly added that, “homosexual behavior is harmful not only to society, but more importantly to the individuals who engage in that behavior.”

NOM President Brian Brown echoed a similar sentiment: “This is about protecting marriage. This isn't about being anti-anyone.”

Over the summer, however, Brown refused to repudiate speakers participating in the group's Summer for Marriage Tour 2010 who had described gay people as “perverted,” “diseased and likely pedophiles.”

“What I believe is that pastors and religious leaders need to be able to speak up for traditional, Christian sexual morality,” Brown told Arisha Michelle Hatch, who was documenting the tour on behalf of gay rights groups the Courage Campaign and Freedom to Marry. “And they have the right to do that. They have the obligation to do that.”

On another NOM-hosted bus tour, Iowa Congressman Steve King equated gay men and lesbians raising kids to having them being “raised in warehouses.”