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Fourie and Bonthuys therefore appealed the High Court judgment to the SCA, which handed down its decision on 30 November 2004.

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On 9 October, the governing African National Congress voted to support the Civil Union Bill.

Although the party had been split on the issue, the vote meant that ANC MPs would be obliged to support the bill in Parliament.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Ian Farlam was of the opinion that the court's order declaring the common-law definition invalid should be suspended for two years to allow Parliament to adopt its own remedy for the situation.

The Government appealed the SCA's ruling to the Constitutional Court, arguing that a major alteration to the institution of marriage was for Parliament and not the courts to decide, while Fourie and Bonthuys cross-appealed, arguing that the Marriage Act should be altered as Judge Farlam had suggested.

Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, acting for President Thabo Mbeki, signed it into law on 29 November, and it became law the following day, one day before the Constitutional Court's order would otherwise have come into force.

Minister of Home Affairs Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the law was only a temporary measure, noting that a fuller marriage law would be formulated to harmonise the several pieces of marriage legislation now in force.

If Parliament did not end the inequality by 1 December 2006, then words would automatically be "read in" to the Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriages.

Justice Kate O'Regan dissented, arguing that these words should be read in immediately.

In the meanwhile, the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project had also launched a separate lawsuit directly attacking the constitutionality of the Marriage Act, which was originally to be heard in the Johannesburg High Court; the Constitutional Court granted the Project's request to have it heard and decided simultaneously with the Fourie case.

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