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WASHINGTON: Nat'l Cathedral OKs gay nuptials

The Washington National Cathedral had been ready to embrace same-sex marriage for some time, but it took a series of recent events and a new leader for the prominent, 106-year-old church to announce Wednesday that it would begin hosting such nuptials. The key development came last July when the Episcopal Church approved a ceremony for same-sex unions at its General Convention in Indianapolis, followed by the legalization of gay marriage in Maryland, which joined the District of Columbia. Longtime same-sex marriage advocate the Very Rev. Gary Hall took over as the cathedral's dean in October.

Singing stars align for inaugural

President Barack Obama can expect some sweet serenades at his Jan. 21 inauguration, with Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor on tap to perform some of the country's patriotic songs. Planners said Wednesday that Obama picked Beyoncé to sing the national anthem, Clarkson for "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and Taylor for "America the Beautiful." Richard Blanco, the son of Cuban exiles, is the 2013 inaugural poet, joining a select group that includes Maya Angelou and the late Robert Frost. Blanco's works explore his family's exile from Cuba and "the intersection of his cultural identities as a Cuban-American gay man," inauguration planners announced. They said Blanco, 44, will be the youngest-ever inaugural poet and the first Hispanic or gay to recite a poem at the swearing-in.

MASSACHUSETTS: Pregnancy drug settlement

Four sisters who claimed their breast cancer was caused by a drug their mother took during pregnancy in the 1950s reached a settlement Wednesday with Eli Lilly and Co. in the first of scores of similar claims around the country to go to trial. Neither Eli Lilly nor lawyers for the women would disclose the financial terms of the settlement, which was announced on the second day of testimony during a federal trial in Boston. Eli Lilly, one of more than a dozen companies that made or marketed a synthetic estrogen known as DES, said it continues to believe its medication "did not cause the conditions alleged in this lawsuit" but the settlement was in its "best interest." A total of 51 women, including the Melnick sisters, filed lawsuits in Boston against more than a dozen companies.

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