One of America’s oldest and most mainstream conservative organizations – whose membership has included Ronald Reagan and John Wayne – has been designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center for opposing illegal immigration, same-sex marriage and affirmative action.

Young Americans for Freedom at Michigan State University will appear on the list in April along with groups tied to racist skinheads, Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.

The left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center says its purpose is to combat racism and promote civil rights.

Kyle Bristow, chairman of MSU-YAF, argues his group simply “supports the sanctity of marriage, the unborn, and opposes illegal immigration and race-preferences.”

“Our values are not extreme and the SPLC has gone too far by listing us as a ‘hate-group,'” he said.

Former members of Young Americans for Freedom, founded by William F. Buckley Jr. in 1960, include Ronald Reagan; former Vice President Dan Quayle; Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.; and actor John Wayne.

Bristow called on Morris Dees, head of the SPLC, to “apologize for the character defamation that his organization is waging against us conservative college students.”

“Do they honestly not have anything better to do?” he asked.

The SPLC has described the Michigan State group as “white supremacist” and says members are “gay-bashers” and “anti-immigrant.”

YAF is trying to find a lawyer to sue the SPLC on their behalf for slander.

Bristow is concerned the listing could negatively impact the careers of YAF members, hurting their chances of getting into law school or other graduate studies.

As WND reported, the campus group co-sponsored an event last year marred by protest in which Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., spoke about illegal immigration.

During Tancredo’s appearance, a fire alarm was pulled twice and a 7-month pregnant woman was assaulted. Also, YAF and College Republican members were spat on and kicked at, tires were slashed and a car was keyed, the group said.

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