Retired U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro died at his Marblehead home Friday. (Courtesy photo)

Former U.S. District Court judge, Joseph L. Tauro; whose landmark rulings protected people’s rights, has died at the age of 87

Joseph L. Tauro, the first judge to rule a federal law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman was   unconstitutional, died at his Marblehead home on Friday.

The retired U.S. District Court judge, who suffered from a rare blood cancer, was 87.

"Judge Tauro was very well-respected, very thoughtful, and fair," said Richard Vitali, an assistant city solicitor in Lynn who appeared in Tauro's courtroom several times. "Many of the cases were settled before trial…

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