Clickbait for you. Frustration for me.

Right now, the EMS social media is abuzz with a piece of so-called religious rights legislation that’s passed the Michigan House of Representatives.  In short, the legislation allows for a person to claim a religious exemption from other laws that infringe upon their religious rights.  Currently, legislation such as this is most commonly championed by Christian social conservatives as an attempt to nullify local and state gay rights provisions.  Our “friends” at EMS1 are headlining this as “Will Michigan allow EMS providers to withhold care based on the patient’s sexuality?”

Here’s my take as an EMS provider, attorney, and someone who’s analyzed state legislation for over a dozen years.  Oh, and also as someone who completely supports the rights of gays and lesbians, including the right to marry.  This bill doesn’t impact EMS one bit.  Not one iota at all.  Doesn’t even mention EMS. I am not YOUR lawyer (although, for the right retainer and hourly rate, that COULD change…), but I can’t see how this proposed piece of legislation changes the duty to respond and the duty to act for EMS (or the fire department or police either).

Also, the bill has only passed through the Michigan House of Representatives and still has to make it past the Michigan Senate and get the signature of the Governor.  As I’ve said before, the legislative process is designed to kill legislation, not pass it.  The chances of a bill getting becoming law are slightly better than my getting a lucrative basketball contract, but probably not as good as your next EMS shift not getting to transport a non-acute patient.

I blame two parties for this kerfuffle and misinformation.  One, somewhere out there, there’s probably a well-meaning and sincere gay rights activist who took the conclusions of this legislation well past the logical extreme.  Second, the lemmings of EMS social media AND the EMS websites blindly posted this without any research, whether out of a lack of legal understanding, believing in a specific agenda, or just trying to drive up clicks.

I’m going to do something I only do occasionally and only when I’m really peeved. I’m calling a publication out by name.  EMS1 — You guys should know better.

As the great American President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”


  1. If there’s is an EMT that feels that way about ANY group of people, they damn well better give up their patch. On behalf of those of us who treat elderly, cops, medics, doctors, children, thugs, all races, ethnic backgrounds, religious groups, etc the same, I didn’t get in this business to judge someone. That’s not our job. I don’t care who you love, the color of your skin, the level of your crime or anything else…. I will treat you the same as my family because that’s what we do. I’m far from perfect. I’ve made mistakes. But do I expect to be treated any differently than someone who is LBGT? Not a fucking chance. Poor form EMS1. There are those of us who have pride in the uniform every time we put it on. Don’t damage EMS as a whole because you want some small minded publicity.

  2. Mike Smertka says:

    I am not a lawyer at all, didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express either, but if anyone wants to send me some money for amateur legal advice, I’d be happy to take it from you.

    EMS1 is causing a lot of grief for the EMS community. Like publications before it such as JEMS, it is pandering to the most base/incapable individuals and doing immeasurable harm to the industry.

    I hope they are making good money doing it. That way at least somebody benefits.

    On this Michigan law, even if it does get passed and signed, my amateur opinion does not see how it would be even remotely possible it would not be challenged in federal court and actually survive. Once you start allowing States to legislate bills against constitutional protections in the name of “States rights” you have exactly what led to the Civil War.