On January 9, 1998, the Tennessee Attorney General issued Opinion No. 98-005 in response to the following question:
In light of the 1997 amendments to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-104, requiring all applicants for marriage licenses to provide social security numbers, can a person without a social security number obtain a marriage license in Tennessee?
The answer is yes, under limited circumstances. The Attorney General is of the opinion that limited exceptions should be applied to the requirement, to avoid unconstitutional interference with the fundamental right to marry. These limited exceptions should be made for persons who do not have a social security number because they are a member of a religious group exempted from participation in the social security system, and for persons who are unable to obtain a social security number for other legitimate reasons, such as aliens who are legally traveling or residing in this country but who are not required to have a social security number. In all other circumstances, applicants for a marriage license will be required to provide their social security numbers in order to obtain a license.
An applicant for a marriage license should be granted a marriage license without a social security number if an applicant is willing to state on the application that he or she either:
(1) Is a member of a religious sect who adhere to established tenets or teachings that render them conscientiously opposed to participating in the social security system, and they are therefore exempt under the Social Security Act; or
(2) Does not have a social security number for a legally-recognized legitimate reason (which should be stated on the application).
If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the CTAS county government consultant in your area.