Vermont is now the first state to legalize gay marriage legislatively, instead of by court order. This is the second state in as many weeks to extend marriage to gay and lesbian couples. Last week, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously legalized gay marriage.

Gay marriage proponents barely managed to override a veto by Republican Governor Jim Douglas.

As promised, Governor Jim Douglas vetoed the gay marriage bill on Monday. This morning, the Senate overrode the governor with a 23 to 5 vote, but drama around a House vote was being described as a “nail bitter.” The final tally was 100 to 49, with not one vote to spare.

Along with his veto, the Republican governor said the gay marriage bill would not end discrimination for gay and lesbian couples – a more charitable response than the chill rhetoric he had previously offered.

“This legislation does not address the inequalities espoused by proponents,” he said in a statement.

“Regardless of whether the term marriage is applied, federal benefits will still be denied to same sex couples in Vermont. And states that do not recognize same sex marriage or civil unions will also deny state rights and responsibilities [to gay couples].”

But lawmakers, who quickly moved to override the veto, disagreed.

“The people's representatives have made history, declaring a separate recognition for some families as being unequal in the eyes of the law,” Jody M. Huckaby, executive director of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), said in a statement. “And Vermont's families have won a joyous victory, gaining the rights, protections and recognition they deserve under the law.”

Gay activists furiously worked over the weekend, chasing down lawmakers believed to be on the fence.

“We're doing everything we can to reach legislators, tell our stories, and urge them to support fairness for our families,” Beth Robinson, executive director of Vermont Freedom to Marry, 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.