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.