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Meredith Baxter to Keynote Nation’s Largest Black-Tie LGBT Fundraiser

Thursday Oct 4, 2012
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DALLAS - Meredith Baxter, acclaimed actress, producer and advocate for women’s and human rights and breast cancer research, will keynote the 31st annual Black Tie Dinner, co-chairs of the event announced today. The sold-out event is the largest one-night GLBT black-tie fundraiser in the nation. This year’s dinner will be held on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.

Baxter recently came out as a lesbian on national television during an interview with Matt Lauer on The Today Show and in an interview in People Magazine. She also signed a deal with Broadway Books to write a candid and revealing memoir of her eventful personal and professional life.

"Meredith Baxter is a champion of women’s rights and devotes much of her time speaking out on issues about which she is passionate," said Black Tie Dinner Co-Chair Chris Kouvelis. "Her life experiences reflect our theme for this year’s dinner: ’Affair of the Heart.’ Every cause that Meredith involves herself with is an affair of her heart in every way."

Noted for her accessible portrayals of intelligent, independent women who struggle with the challenges before them, Baxter achieved early success with a string of television hits, including the CBS situation comedy Bridget Loves Bernie; the critically acclaimed ABC drama Family, for which she received an Emmy nomination; and, most notably, the long-running and perennially popular NBC sitcom Family Ties, in which she starred in the role of Elyse Keaton.

Following Family Ties, Baxter made a seamless transition to drama, quickly establishing herself as one of the most sought-after actors for television movies. In 1991, she received an Emmy nomination for her performance as the lead character in A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story.

In 1994, she garnered a Daytime Emmy nomination for her role as a lesbian mother raising a young son in the CBS After School Special, Other Mothers. She also received a special award for public awareness from the National Breast Cancer Coalition for her work on the television film, My Breast (1994), a black comedy about the true story of journalist Joyce Wadler’s successful battle with breast cancer.

"In many respects, Meredith Baxter is America’s favorite mom," said Black Tie Dinner Co-Chair Mitzi Lemons. "When she decided to come out in a very public way, she paved the way for so many people to follow in her footsteps. In Meredith, they see a friendly, accessible and non-threatening person who has made the decision to come out, and perhaps that removes some of the fear and stigma from their own coming-out process."

Baxter developed a line of skin care products over 10 years ago and donates a portion of the profits from sales to the Meredith Baxter Fund for Breast Cancer Research, which promotes prevention and research as well as free mammograms for low-income women.

In her book, Untied, Baxter presents a fully realized portrait of her life as an actress, mother of five children and grandmother, and candidly discusses her fight with breast cancer, her 19 years of sobriety, entrepreneurship and her decision to come out.

Chaz Bono will receive the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award, an award given to an individual, organization or company that has made a significant contribution of national scope to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Caroline Rhea, beloved comedian and star of stage and screen, will serve as master of ceremonies at this year’s Dinner.

Chaz Bono will receive the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award, an award given to an individual, organization or company that has made a significant contribution of national scope to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Architect, volunteer and humanitarian Lucilo Peña will receive the Kuchling Humanitarian Award, presented to individuals who have made extraordinary gifts of their time and talents on behalf of the GLBT community.

Plano-based JCPenney will receive the Black Tie Dinner Media Award, given in recognition of positive, increased awareness of GLBT issues in the media.

Black Tie Dinner Inc. is a nonprofit organization that raises funds for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender supportive organizations through a premier event of empowerment, education and entertainment in partnership with the community. The event has been headlined by local and national celebrities and leaders such as Maya Angelou, Gov. Ann Richards, Geena Davis, Lily Tomlin, Goldie Hawn, Martin Sheen and, most recently, Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin and multi-platinum recording artist Taylor Dayne.

Black Tie Dinner Inc. began in Dallas in 1982 to help support the Human Rights Campaign Fund. There were 140 guests at the first dinner, which raised $6,000. In 2011, there were 3,000 attendees and $1.142 million was distributed to 17 local beneficiaries and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. In its 30-year history, the dinner has distributed more than $16 million.

"Affair of the Heart" is this year’s Black Tie Dinner theme. Although this year’s Black Tie Dinner is officially sold out, anyone interested in tickets that may become available should contact Dan Godfrey at dgodfrey@blacktie.org

For more information on the event, visit www.blacktie.org

For a link to the Affair of the Heart promotional video, visit http://youtu.be/8xxCRvn-sgw

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