A Republican lawmaker who last week made controversial remarks about gay relationships on the Senate floor in the US state of Iowa, has asked an openly gay colleague to have lunch with him, in an effort to get better acquainted.

Senator Dennis Guth, sent the invitation, which was accepted, to Senator Matt McCoy. The latter suggested that the pair have lunch together, before going on to meet some gay residents of Des Moines, the Iowan capital.

Senator Guth, last week talked about the negative health impacts of the “homosexual lifestyle”, but defended his comments, saying he had only hoped to encourage a dialogue on gay issues.

“What I got was name-calling and character assassination,” he said on Monday, going on to say that his comments were based on statistics he found at the federal Centers on Disease Control and Prevention.

”I had hoped that we could have an honest discussion on the Senate floor without each side trying to score some political points,” he said. “Rather than escalate, I suggest an alternative: Sen McCoy, let’s do lunch together sometime and get to know each other, and basically talk about something other than politics.”

McCoy, who later told reporters that he would accept Guth’s invitation, described his comments as “ignorant”, during words exchanged on the Senate floor, despite not being in the chamber when Guth made his original statements, reports the Des Moines Register.

“I would say anytime we can get together and talk about issues and have lunch I think that is a good day. I certainly would welcome him to come on down to the East Village and meet some of the folks … who represent some of the diversity that I am proud to call my Capital City,” said McCoy.

McCoy was asked whether he would take Guth to the Blazin Saddle, a popular gay bar, McCoy said it isn’t normally open during lunchtime, but that the pair could walk past it, in order to show Guth “what diversity looks like and introduce him to some of the folks that I have come to care a great deal about.”

Senator Guth had suggested not talking about politics during the meeting, however McCoy said despite it being a nice sentiment, he would want to bring up diversity issues which he considers important, and said needed to be discussed, in reference to “all of us having equal rights and equal representation in the community.”

Senator McCoy spoke on his defence of gay relationships on the Senate floor last week, the response to which, he said, had been overwhelmingly positive.

“I think for the most part it has been very productive and furthered the discussion that we should be able to talk about issues relating to safe sex and health and how to protect oneself. That is what I think we have an obligation to do as leaders. So I am not afraid of these subjects and I am willing to discuss them. I think lunch is just fine,” he continued.

The US state of Iowa, became the third state to do so, when it legalised equal marriage back in 2009.

Meanwhile in Nevada, a state Senator came out as gay on Monday, during a legislative debate around a bill to repeal the state’s ban on equal marriage.