Focus on the Family founder James
Dobson announced he has stepped down as chairman of the anti-gay
group, a press release said on Friday.
The group also announced that Shirley
Dobson, James Dobson's wife, has also resigned her membership on the
Focus on the Family Board of Directors.
The conservative evangelical minister
known for his anti-gay rhetoric will continue hosting the group's
radio broadcast, writing a monthly newsletter, and speaking on behalf
of the organization.
Dobson, 72, will be replaced by Lt.
Gen. Patrick P. Caruana (USAF, Retired), who has served on the board
since 1996 and currently serves as vice chairman.
Six years ago, Dobson relinquished
day-to-day management of the company to Jim Daly, who currently
serves as president and CEO.
“One of the common errors of
founder-presidents is to hold on to the reins of leadership too long,
thereby preventing the next generation from being prepared for
executive authority,” Dobson said in a statement. “I have wanted
not to make that mistake with Focus on the Family, which is why I
stepped back, first from the presidential duties six years ago, and
now, from board chairmanship. Though letting go is difficult after
three decades of intensive labor, it is the wise thing to do.”
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against
Defamation (GLAAD) urged media outlets distributing the news to
scrutinize and hold Dobson accountable for his anti-gay legacy.
“It is important to remember his
history of false and defamatory claims about our community,” GLAAD
President Neil G. Giuliano said in a statement.
Dobson's most defamatory claim came in
2004, when he told The Daily Oklahoman: “Homosexuals are
not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage.
It will destroy marriage. It will destroy Earth.”
Wayne Besen, who founded Truth Wins Out
to counter the “ex-gay” movement, discussed his on-going battle
against Dobson, Focus on the Family and the “ex-gay” movement in
a 2008 wide-ranging interview with On Top Magazine.
“I have a deep disdain for Focus on
the Family because this group is uniquely truth challenged,” Besen
said. “They are the captains of an industry that causes a great
deal of pain and suffering for GLBT people. They are responsible for
much of the hate against gay and lesbian people in America, because
they pump out huge amounts of anti-gay propaganda, that demeans our
lives and devalues our families. What makes them a dangerous group,
is that they dehumanize us in the name of 'love' and 'family values'.
What they do is Orwellian.”
“Dobson has set up a fib factory that
portrays gay people as perverted, dysfunctional and sick. When these
lies filter down into society it causes discrimination and even hate
“This is about a powerful, wealthy
anti-gay organization that is committed to ruining our lives through
propaganda and transforming democracy into theocracy,” he added.
Besen said he hoped Dobson's
resignation would usher in a new era of politics at Focus on the
“It is time for Focus on the Family
to abandon the politics of polarization and choose moderate leaders
who are not fixated on culture wars,” Besen said on the TWO website
“This would also be a good time for the organization to consider
abandoning its failed 'ex-gay' ministry, Love Won Out.”
Dobson's resignation, gay rights groups
warned in their releases, is merely the shuffling of the cards, not
the end of the game. Americans United for Separation of Church and
State called it “merely rearranging the deck chairs on its big,
But D. Michael Lindsay, a Rice
University sociologist who studies evangelicals and politics, told
The Associated Press that the resignation was significant
because “he no longer has his hands on the lever of power” at
Focus on the Family.
Dobson said he and his wife were
anxious to become full-time grandparents.