HAZEL PARK — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently made appointments to various state boards and commissions, and Luke Londo, a Hazel Park City Council member, is one of them.
He has been tapped to serve on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, a group investigating alleged discrimination against people based on sex, age, religion, race, genetics, height, weight, arrest record, mental and physical disabilities, and more.
If the appointment proceeds, barring any action by the state Senate, the commission will once again have all eight positions filled. The group holds meetings on the fourth Monday of the first month of each quarter, alternating locations between Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Traverse City.
Londo first applied for the position in May, when two vacancies were still available. He said in an email that the first of those two positions was filled by David Worthams not long after, but he didn’t hear anything about his appointment until Sept. 19 — just three days after his wife gave birth to their son.
“To say it was an exciting week would be the understatement of a lifetime,” Londo said.
Londo first moved to Hazel Park in late 2016 and joined the City Council in January 2021. He attended Northern Michigan University, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in journalism. He is pursuing his master’s degree in public administration from the same school.
Londo works as a senior public relations manager for the Rocket Community Fund. Previously, he served as the director of constituent services for the late Congressman Dan Benishek and as a constituent relations representative for the Department of Attorney General under former Attorney General Bill Schuette.
He also said that he is no stranger to promoting civil rights. During his time on the City Council, he helped craft and pass a human rights ordinance that includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, modeled after Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, with additional elements from a May 2018 interpretative statement from the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.
“The Michigan Supreme Court has since held up the commission’s interpretation of ‘sex’ being inclusive of those categories (of sexual orientation and gender identity),” Londo said.
The City Council also passed an ordinance banning income discrimination in housing — which is not yet a civil right at the state level.
Londo described how the state commission protects civil rights, which in turn protects everyone in Michigan, including its most vulnerable minorities.
“The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is crucial in ensuring those who have been wronged and discriminated against have the opportunity to seek justice,” Londo said. “As a member of the LGBTQ community, I’m particularly concerned about the rhetoric as of late, accusing us of grooming children and other reprehensible accusations that aren’t grounded in fact or reality.
“There has also been a spate of racial discrimination in housing appraisals lately at a national level, and it’s important to be vigilant here in Michigan,” he said. “Despite how far we’ve come as a country, there are still too many civil rights violations, which makes bodies like the Michigan Civil Rights Commission more critical than ever.”
Upon investigating alleged discrimination cases, the commission can then authorize charges by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights on behalf of the victims.
“Having the backing and resources of a state department can level the playing field and maximize the opportunity for justice,” Londo said. “I truly believe in the inherent goodness of Michiganders, and empathy and kindness can go a long way. However, when discrimination occurs, it is critical for everyone — especially those among us who enjoy certain privileges — to speak up and look after each other.”
He said he is “extraordinarily honoured and humbled” by the governor’s decision to appoint him.
“I’m grateful to have spent time working for the federal and state governments, which taught me so much, and to be able to put those lessons to practical use,” Londo said. “I am excited to once again be in a position to give back in a meaningful way.”