Embattled GOP Leader: Defend Conservative Rights

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) -- A Michigan member of the Republican National Committee who faces calls to resign over his anti-gay and anti-Muslim statements is urging supporters to defend the free-speech rights of conservatives.

Dave Agema told about 70 people Monday at a Grand Rapids fundraiser that America's future depends on public acceptance of conservative values.

Agema says "there's movement to silence the conservative voice in the GOP" and says people "must refuse to be silenced by the ploy of political correctness." Agema has said gays are disproportionately involved in urban homicides and want health coverage because they're dying of AIDS. He's also questioned whether Muslims practice charity.

U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land is Michigan's other GOP national committee member and is among many Republicans and Democrats calling for Agema's resignation.

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