ALBANY, New York — A Christian adoption agency’s legal fight with New York state over its policy toward unmarried and same-sex couples will continue under a federal appeals court ruling Tuesday.

New Hope Family Services in Syracuse professes that because of religious beliefs, it cannot recommend adoptions by same-sex or unmarried couples. The service sued the state Office of Children and Family Services after it was told it must change its “discriminatory” policy or shut down, according to court papers.

The U.S. District Court in Albany dismissed New Hope’s lawsuit in May 2019, saying New York officials weren’t infringing on the agency’s religious freedom. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled Tuesday that the lower court’s dismissal was premature and sent the case back down to the trial court for further proceedings.

“It is plainly a serious step to order an authorized adoption agency such as New Hope—operating without complaint for 50 years, taking no government funding, successfully placing approximately 1,000 children, and with adoptions pending or being supervised—to close all its adoption operations,” read the court’s opinion.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization representing New Hope, said the appeals decision was a “resounding victory.”

In a statement, OCFS said it didn’t comment on pending litigation, but said the state and the agency “remain committed to non-discrimination and will continue to advocate for all children and families.”