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    Meredith Baxter's New Family Ties: Lesbian Mom

    We wonder what ultraconservative Alex P. Keaton would've said about his liberal ex-hippie mom switching parties?

    Meredith Baxter, who played mom to Michael J. Fox on NBC's classic '80s sitcom Family Ties, has officially declared herself a lesbian.

    Baxter, 62, revealed to The Advocate that after three marriages, most notably to fellow actor David Birney, and five children, she started dating women seriously seven years ago, after testing the waters with a brief fling six years prior.

    And something clicked all right.

    "I've been married three times, and I have a slew of children, but I've never felt that kind of connection before in that kind of awakening. It was very profound for me," Baxter said of her revelation.

    While she came out to family and friends, she kept her sexuality under the radar, deciding to go public after taking a Caribbean cruise last month with thousands of other gay women, among them Top Gun actress Kelly McGillis.

    Baxter says she's been in a four-year relationship with Nancy Locke, a building contractor. The couple have been living together for the past two years.

    While she earned a Daytime Emmy nod playing a lesbian mom on CBS' Other Mothers back in 1993, the tube star admitted that at the time she was clueless about her own internal struggle about her sexuality.

    She attributes part of her awakening to not only going sober almost two decades ago, but also to living a more open life after years of therapy to deal with her marital problems, her mother's death and her battle with breast cancer.

    The reaction so far from friends, colleagues and Family Ties fans has been nothing but positive.

    "The message I get is that I'm America's mom," said Baxter. "And because research seems to show that people who have someone who is gay in their family—or a friend or just know someone in the community who is gay—they seem to have a more open attitude about gay and lesbian issues. So I can say I'm still that mom."

    She also hoped that her coming out will inspire others in similar circumstances.

    "I am still the same person. I'm nonthreatening, I'm very friendly, I'm accessible, and if they can say, "OK, well, she's a lesbian, maybe that's not such a scary thing. And if she can come out and say that without too much fear, then maybe I can do that."

    ________

    What would we do, baby, without them? Check out E! Online's Gays on TV photo gallery.

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