Television mother Meredith Baxter has come out gay. The sixty-two-year-old actress said Wednesday on NBC's Today show that she has been dating women for the past seven years.

“I am a lesbian and it was a later-in-life recognition,” she told Matt Lauer. “Some people would say, well, you're living a lie and, you know, the truth is – not at all. This has only been for the past seven years.”

The “Family Ties” mother became tabloid fodder last month when the National Enquirer reported she was spotted aboard an all-lesbian cruise.

Additional photos surfaced this week of Baxter and her girlfriend on, the website penned by the openly gay blogger Perez Hilton.

Baxter, who has been married three times and is a mother of five, told People magazine that “the thought of being gay never crossed my mind.”

“I got involved with someone I never expected to get involved with and it was that kind of awakening,” she said. “I never fought it because it was like, oh, I understand why I had the issues I had early in life. I had a great deal of difficulty connecting with men in relationships.”

Baxter was also interviewed on Sirius XM Radio's The Frank DeCaro Show, where she told her host that perhaps she took the cruise because she was ready to publicly admit her four-year relationship with her partner, Nancy Locke.

Baxter called her coming out a political statement, saying on Today, “This is a political act … If anyone knows someone who's gay or lesbian … they're less likely to vote against them to take away their rights. I can be that lesbian you know now ...”