Dissident local members of the Church of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have organized a pro-Equal Rights Amendment group, with an avowed goal of convincing Nevada Mormon Church members to vote for approval of the ERA.

National coordinator Sonja Johnson said the pro-ERA group has "closet" supporters who will be out trying to win over the 40,000 southern Nevada church members. Leaders of the Mormon Church have opposed ratification of the amendment.

Formation of the pro-ERA Mormon group comes on the heels of the establishment of a Navada chapter of Catholics Act for ERA.

Nevada is one of the 15 states that has not ratified the amendment. To pass, ERA supporters need three more states. Of the 15, Nevada has been tagged by national organizers for passage as one of the three most likely to pass the amendment.

"Mormons come out of a tradition of vigorous freedom of thought and speech and respect equal rights," Mrs. Johnson said. "It is a venerable tradition that Mormons for ERA represents."

Attorney Lee Walker, another organizer of the group added that the LDS Church always has instructed members to "preserve intergrity at the polls as well as in all aspects of life."

He cited official church advisers that "individuals should follow their own conscience" and that no church disciplinary action is planned against those Mormons who choose to support the ERA.