The government consultation on equal marriage rights for gay couples is expected to address the current working of the state pension scheme, in which male and female civil partners are treated as married men.

When civil partnerships legislation was enacted, the system adopted for inheriting state pension rights classed everyone as a straight man.

In the current marriage system, a widow is generally entitled to more of her late husband’s state pension than a widower is to his late wife’s.

For gay couples, a surviving civil partner is treated as a widower’s model, regardless of his or her own sex.

This may change under the proposals put forth by the government last week to give equal marriage rights to gay couples by 2015.

Currently, a male civil partner enjoys the same basic state pension entitlements on his partner’s death as if he had been married to a woman. But a gay woman is financially worse off in this instance than if she had married a man.

Helen Baker of Sackers told IFA Online: “There are two discriminations here; one against widowers and another against civil partners.

“The ultimate equality would be to treat everyone as though they were a widow because women get more and this would be the reform to cause the least upset, but it will be more expensive.”

The consultation document says the Department for Work and Pensions is “currently considering on what basis these provisions should be extended to equal civil marriages”.

The government’s public consultation on how best to implement equal marriage rights will be open until 14 June this year for you to have your say on this and other issues.