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Supreme Court clears ban on gay conversion therapy

SAN FRANCISCO — The Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for enforcement of a first-of-its-kind California law that bars psychological counseling aimed at turning gay minors straight.

The justices turned aside a legal challenge brought by supporters of so-called conversion or reparative therapy.

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Without comment, they let stand an August 2013 appeals court ruling that said the ban covered professional activities that are within the state’s authority to regulate and doesn’t violate the free speech rights of licensed counselors and patients seeking treatment.

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled last year that California lawmakers properly showed that therapies designed to change sexual orientation for those under the age of 18 were outside the scientific mainstream and have been disavowed by most major medical groups as unproven and potentially dangerous.

‘‘The Supreme Court has cement shut any possible opening to allow further psychological child abuse in California,’’ state Senator Ted Lieu, the law’s sponsor, said Monday. ‘‘The Court’s refusal to accept the appeal of extreme ideological therapists who practice the quackery of gay conversion therapy is a victory for child welfare, science, and basic humane principles.’’

The law says professional therapists and counselors who use treatments designed to eliminate or reduce same-sex attractions would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by state licensing boards.

It does not cover the actions of pastors and lay counselors who are unlicensed but provide such therapy through church programs.

Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal aid group, had challenged the law, as did other supporters of the therapy. New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, signed a bill outlawing the practice in his state last year and Liberty Counsel has been fighting that law as well.

In other action Monday:

 The Supreme Court said it will not hear a challenge to California’s first-in-the-nation mandate requiring fuel producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 The justices said lawsuits by victims’ families and survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks can proceed, but without relatives of Osama bin Laden and businesses that allegedly supported Al Qaeda before the terrorist attacks as defendants.

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