The frame around the gay marriage debate in Minnesota has changed. In the middle of Jesse VenturaâÄôs term as governor, âÄúThe BodyâÄù summed up his position on marriage rights in one paragraph of his 2000 book, âÄúDo I Stand Alone?âÄù: âÄúMy dictionary says marriage is a union between a man and a woman. I donâÄôt think we need to be diluting that definition just to make sure gays have the privilege of being in a committed union. I think a term like domestic partnership works fine.âÄù More recently, the ex-governor has changed his tune. While Ventura stops short of granting gay couples the full and equal access to marriage that states like Iowa and Massachusetts have now established, in a 2008 panel discussion on MSNBC he called for full GLBT civil rights based on the principle of separation of church and state. It would appear that Minnesota Democrats sympathize with VenturaâÄôs change of heart, but in the 2010 Minnesota gubernatorial race, their commitment will be put to the test. Not a single declared Republican candidate is in support of same-sex marriage laws, making it a near certainty that this issue will be a focal point for DFL opponents. DFL candidates have already chosen sides in this debate, deciding that gay marriage is a question of civil rights, not of politics. Since they are taking this position now, they cannot and should not back down in the future, regardless of who gets the final endorsement and regardless of how fiercely Republican gubernatorial candidates attack their liberal position. Minnesota voters will reward strong, principled consistency on this often divisive and dicey debate.