The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Michigan on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging Michigan's anti-LGBT religious freedom adoption law.

In 2015, Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed three bills into law that allow faith-based agencies that contract with the state to refuse to place children with couples based on religious grounds. While sexual orientation is not specifically mentioned in the legislation, it was widely see as a preemptive response to Obergefell, the Supreme Court case that found that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry. Michigan was among the four states involved in the case.

Plaintiffs in the case are two lesbian couples who were denied service by Catholic adoption agencies and a Michigan resident who was raised in foster care.

The lawsuit was filed against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Michigan Children's Service Agency.. ACLU lawyers argue in their 22-page complaint that the U.S. Constitution does not permit state-contracted, taxpayer-funded agencies to use religious litmus tests in screening prospective foster or adoptive parents. The lawsuit argues that the law violates the Establishment and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution.

“Decisions about adoption and foster family placements should be made based on the needs of the child, not the religious beliefs of the agency,” said Jay Kaplan, staff attorney at the ACLU of Michigan’s Nancy Katz and Margo Dichtemiller LGBT Project. “There are 13,000 children in Michigan’s child welfare system. Allowing agencies to turn away loving, qualified families based on religious criteria creates fewer families for children, reducing their chances of being placed in a suitable family, or any family at all.”

Both couples involved in the litigation are married and were turned away by Catholic agencies. Another plaintiff grew up in foster care and was placed at age 17 into a family. She believes the legislation would have blocked her adoption because her foster father was an atheist.

The lawsuit claims that DHHS's own policy banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression is not being applied.