Gay activists in Vermont may be as close as one vote to passing a gay marriage bill.

Thursday, the Vermont House approved a gay marriage bill by a 95 to 52 vote, 5 votes shy of the needed two-thirds majority to override a promised veto from Governor Jim Douglas. The Senate OK'd the bill with the generous support of a 26 to 4 vote, so an override appears safe there.

Douglas' office has said the governor would quickly veto the bill, perhaps as early as Monday.

Over the weekend, gay activists in the state mobilized, chasing down lawmakers believed to be on the fence. Gay marriage in the first state to approve civil unions for gay and lesbian couples nine years ago may hinge on changing only one mind.

One member of the House, a likely gay marriage supporter, was absent during last week's vote. House Speaker Sap Smith, a Democrat from Morristown, also receives a vote under these circumstances. And over the weekend, two lawmakers said they would change their vote out of anger at the governor's contempt for House members.

The Associated Press reports that Rep. Albert “Sonny” Audette, a Democrat from Burlington, has said he would change his vote and called the governor's threatened veto disrespectful.

“We in the House are just as deserving of respect as he is,” Audette, a member of the house Transportation Committee, told the news service. “He seems to think we're nothing but a bunch of peons down there.”

In delivering his veto threat, Douglas, a Republican, chided lawmakers for ignoring pressing economic issues, but failed to give a reason for his opposition.

Audette gave a stirring speech on the floor of the House Thursday night. He said he held no animosity towards gay couples but was bound by his Catholic faith to vote against the bill.

“I am a devout Catholic,” Audette said. “My religion at this point would not want me to vote for this. I wish that I could and I hope for the best and I congratulate the people who are trying to get this through.”

Gay activists in Vermont were determined to find that lone vote or change the governor's mind.

Beth Robinson, executive director of Vermont Freedom to Marry, would not comment on the specifics of her group's lobbying efforts in the twilight of the campaign but did say she expected the vote to be a “nail bitter.”

“We're doing everything we can to reach legislators, tell our stories, and urge them to support fairness for our families,” Robinson told On Top Magazine in an email Sunday. “We're hoping for the best.”

Over the weekend, volunteers were busy manning phone banks in Burlington, canvassing neighborhoods, and asking supporters to call and email their representatives and the governor.

“Many supporters – mostly straight and many not historically political – have stepped up to the plate,” Robinson said.

“We're certainly getting really close. And I'm hopeful we can get over the top,” Rep. David Zuckerman, a Progressive from Burlington, told the AP. “The question is, are there other 'nos' that we can persuade to help us out?”

The override vote may take place as early as Tuesday, if Douglas vetoes the bill on Monday as expected. If Vermont legalizes gay marriage, it would become the first state to do so legislatively. Last week, Iowa became the third state to allow gay marriage after the state Supreme Court unanimously threw out a 1998 gay marriage ban.