Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said the public reaction to a ruling striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been positive.

The high court ruled last June that the federal government could not deny federal benefits to gay and lesbian couples married in states which recognize such unions, currently 17 plus the District of Columbia. The case was brought by Edith Windsor, an elderly widow required to pay $363,000 in estate taxes because the IRS would not recognize her marriage to another woman.

“The reaction to Windsor I think has been positive from the public,” Ginsburg answered when asked by The Wall Street Journal whether she was surprised by the growing support for marriage equality. “People could understand the injustice of the way she was treated.”

“I haven't seen a social change that rapid in – ever. It's just great that people who for years have been disguising what they were are now free to be what they are.”

“I'm sure you know that years and years ago Justice [Lewis] Powell said there was never a homosexual clerk at the Supreme Court. Of course there were. And he had some,” she said.

Almost as soon as Windsor was announced, marriage equality proponents started filing dozens of challenges to state marriage bans.

“I think it was an inevitable next step on the part of people who were trying to promote a greater understanding,” Ginsburg said of judges who have cited Windsor in their rulings invalidating state bans.