The Ethical Humanist Award is the Society's highest honor. The Award was established in 1970 to honor an individual who has acted with extraordinary moral courage, without regard for the sanction or acclaim of his or her peers or of society, and whose actions have had broad humanizing implications. Since 1970, the award has been presented just 16 times. Recipients of the Ethical Humanist Award are:
2016 - Planned Parenthood for its tireless and passionate advocacy policies and services that enable Americans to access comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care, education, and information for the last one hundred years.
2012- Irshad Manji for her courageous and steadfast advocacy of progressive and humane reform within contemporary Islamic Culture.
2007 - Matthew LaClair for courageously standing up to defend the principle of Religious Freedom and Separation of Church and State in the face of extreme opposition from his peers, teachers and Principal.
2005 - David Kaczynski for his courage in identifying his brother to authorities as the Unabomber, and for his continuing activism against the death penalty in New York State.
2003 - Senator James M. Jeffords (I-VT)
for following his conscience and changing his lifelong party affiliation, from Republican to Independent.
1999 - Marian Leonard Tompson, a co-founder of La Leche League International. Her tireless work has led to the improved health of millions of children worldwide.
1998 - Senators John McCain and Russell Feingold
for their commitment to the
Campaign Finance Reform Bill.
1997 - Senator Paul Wellstone, Mary Jo Bane, and Peter Edelman for their courageous actions in protesting the 1996 "Welfare Reform" legislation.
1996 - Jeffrey Wigand for his courageous actions in revealing tobacco company research and policies harmful to the public good.
1995 - Mario Cuomo for his courageous opposition, during his twelve years as Governor, to the reinstitution of the death penalty in New York State.
1985 - A. Ernest Fitzgerald for upholding integrity in government by courageously opposing waste and corruption in military procurement.
1983 - Hugh B. Kaufman for his courageous efforts to protect our national lands from contamination and his tireless devotion to the public welfare.
1979 - Dorothy Day for the pursuit of social justice for the poor and commitment to religious and political ecumenism.
1978 - Percy Qoboza for his pursuit of justice and human rights on behalf of the oppressed peoples of South Africa.
1977 - Orlando Letelier (posthumously) for his pursuit of fundamental personal and democratic freedoms in Chile.
1975 - Sgt. Bruce Wright for his advocacy of equal application of the law for all.
1973 - Joseph A. Yablonski (posthumously) for his fight against corruption in the United Mine Workers of America.
1972 - Capt. Howard B. Levy, MD for refusing to train Special Forces troops to serve in Vietnam.
1971 - Assemblyman George M. Michaels for his deciding vote ensuring enactment of New York State's Abortion Reform Law.
1970 - Michael A. Bernhardt for refusing to participate in the massacre at MyLai.