12/03/2009 AT 8:00 AM ET
The first person to laud Meredith Baxter for her decision to come out publicly as a lesbian is her TV husband, Michael Gross.
“She’s one of my favorite people in the world, and I’m just thrilled that it’s no longer a secret, and that’s about the size of it,” says Gross, who played the dad on the 1980s sitcom Family Ties. “I’m just thrilled this has happened because now my wife and I don’t have to hide this from everybody we know. Occasionally people will say to us, ‘Hey, Michael, you still see your costar? How’s she doing? Is there a man in her life?’ ”
Gross, 62, and his wife have known about Baxter’s sexuality for four years, and he counts the actress, also 62, among his best friends – they last saw each other in July, at a Family Ties reunion dinner. Baxter and longtime girlfriend Nancy Locke, a building contractor, are a wonderful couple, he says.
“It seems to be a seamless melding of individuals and families. Meredith’s children are very accepting of this and I myself have met Meredith’s partner on numerous occasions,” Gross says. “I’ve traveled with them. She’s just a first-rate individual – and I like her a lot. My wife does, as well.”
Baxter, he says, has been fairly open about being a lesbian.
“She has been, particularly in Los Angeles,” he says. “When we go out together, she travels with her partner. I’ve seen [them] hold hands in public. She’s never made an issue of hiding it. I think in some ways, Meredith is more comfortable with this because who wants to live as someone other than yourself?”
“As far as I’m concerned it was pretty old news,” Gross adds with a laugh.