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 crimes.”

“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 Family.

“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, intolerant ship.”

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.